Monday, October 2, 2017

Water-Wise & Fire-Smart Program appreciated

Joyce Sasse - Even though the major threat of the Kenow wildfire has been brought under control, so long as the conditions of drought and wind remain, our region is still at risk. “We must remain vigilant and fire-smart. Remember, the Porcupine Hills / Granum Fire burst into flames on Dec. 14, 1997.”  This was the central message Pat Neumann, Deputy Emergency Services Chief, said when he spoke at the recent meeting of the Multicultural Friendship Group.

He gave an overview of what it was like south of Twin Butte the night of September 11, 2017. The combination of drought, temperature, wind and atmospheric conditions made of the “perfect fire-storm”. The explosion and intensity of flames was incredible.

Speaking directly to fire-smart matters around our homes, Neumann said, giving attention to a building’s roof is of utmost importance. Cedar shakes and old shingles can be highly flammable, as are gutters full of debris.

Clean the gutters and yard-space around your house, cut tall grass and weeds, remove piles of lumber and flammable materials (such as gas cans). Sprinklers can even be set atop roofs.

This led to a discussion about more long-term thinking. Leaf-trees are preferable to evergreens from a fire-smart point of view. Might we seek out zeriscaping directives, adopt a community wide theme promoting “Water Conservation Alternatives”, and make use of yard signs like “Proudly Conserving Water” to explain browning lawns?

The second speaker of the evening was 8-year-old Hannah Salonen. She was so concerned about the shallowness of Pincher’s creek, and the rapidity with which the Oldman River Reservoir was shrinking, that she put a couple of mindful poster up in the town. That got more than one of us thinking … and choosing the evening’s discussion topic.

Her posters included tips about not wasting water (use cooking and dish water on your plants), turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, don’t waste water on lawns or car-washing, realize how quickly water from sprinklers evaporates.
Other tips arose from the discussion: showering uses less water than bathing; toilets might have the sign “if its yellow, let it mellow …”; listen to what our school kids have to teach us, and listen to old-timers who remember ploughing fire guards and letting cattle keep the underbrush down on a property.

We do have to admit we humans have caused many changes in the climate. It is our responsibility to consider the implications – and to talk with each other about these issues. The greatest power we can exercise is to share our concerns with the people around us.

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