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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Don't try this at home - FireSmart promotes safer communities, healthier forests

David McIntyre, Letter to the Editor

A recent FireSmart ad delivered this message: Plant fire resistant trees like aspen, birch or poplar, instead of spruce or pine.

The message has profound value, perhaps particularly for people living within forests of spruce and pine
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But as we look into the forests of southwestern Alberta, we might ask this: Why does this province throw gobs of money into the creation and retention of spruce and pine forests that—even when they survive to be harvested—appear to be worth far less than society's colossal investment in their creation?

Why does Alberta tempt fate by trying to maintain a costly, high-risk forest, attempting to keep it standing and wildfire-free for a frightfully long and perilous century? Why does this province manage forests in a way that's inherently dangerous?

The 2003 Lost Creek Wildfire and 2011 Slave Lake Wildfire serve as high-priced reminders. What did we learn? We seem to have learned not to plant, in our yards, the very trees we pay to have grown all around us.

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