Fire protection and restoration projects
Banff National Park
Parks Canada is committed to restoring fire to the landscape, benefiting communities and ecosystems. Fires are necessary to improve forest health and reduce the long-term risk of wildfire to communities. Historical fire suppression has caused a significant decline in ecosystem health and diversity of species within the mountain national parks.
The health and safety of Canadians, visitors, and Parks Canada staff is of the utmost importance. Parks Canada has worked continuously over the last 40 years to protect the residents, communities and infrastructure in Banff national park from the effects of wildfire. Public safety is at the core of everything that we do. Below you will find information on fire protection and restoration projects within Banff National Park.
Prescribed fire operations will only be conducted when predetermined weather and site conditions are met.
Prescribed fires help to restore healthy forests and grasslands, and enhance habitat for wildlife. They also help reduce the risk of wildfire to our communities.
In Banff National Park, most of the planned prescribed fires this year will take place in remote backcountry areas. However, two front country burns including; Compound Meadows and Fairholme will occur should conditions permit.If you are sensitive to smoke and would like advance notification of burning, please contact us to be added to the smoke sensitive notification email distribution list.
Previously burned in 2003, the Fairholme II prescribed fire will improve habitat for wildlife like grizzly bears and will reduce the risk of wildfire to local communities, including the Hamlet of Harvie Heights and the Town of Canmore. A re-burn of the site is required to reduce lodgepole pine regrowth, restore montane grasslands, and open forests that historically occupied this area.
To help ensure smoke impacts are minimized and to protect local communities during fire operations, a smaller scale prescribed fire may be conducted in the spring of 2023 with the main prescribed fire unit to occur later in the fall. Both operations are dependent on favourable weather conditions.
Size: 4,469 hectares
Location: in the front ranges of Banff National Park, between the Banff East Gate and Johnson Lake area, and the Trans-Canada Highway.
Prescribed fire will reduce conifer encroachment, stimulate the growth of deciduous and grass species, and restore wildlife habitat in the important valley bottom. It will also help to decrease the wildfire hazard to the Town of Banff.
Size: 194 hectares
Location: On either side of the TransCanada Highway, adjacent to the Town of Banff and Cascade Mountain.
Wildfire risk reduction work helps limit fire intensity, reduces the potential for spot fires from windblown embers, and improves the effectiveness of fire suppression techniques. FireSmart is a key part of this work.
Did you know: Parks Canada is an active member of the FireSmart program?
The FireSmart program empowers the public and increases community resilience to wildfire across Canada. FireSmart Canada works closely with communities within the national park including the Town of Banff and the Village of Lake Louise. They also work with neighbouring communities outside Banff National Park.
West Sulphur wildfire risk reduction (expected completion 2023)
Parks Canada is working on a large, multi-year project on the west side of Sulphur Mountain. The West Sulphur fuel break will help protect the Town of Banff in the event of a wildfire. In addition it will increase habitat for plants and animals.
The project includes removing large sections of trees. This will slow the speed at which a wildfire can spread, greatly reducing how fast a wildfire could reach the Town of Banff. It will also provide fire managers with a strategic fire break from which to manage an active wildfire.
Once completed, the area will be more open. This will allow sunlight to reach the forest floor where sun-loving plants can flourish. It will improve the area’s biodiversity and habitat for wolves, elk and grizzly bears. It will not take long for the forest ground cover to grow back.
FireSmart (expected completion November 2023)
In fall 2023, Parks Canada will conduct FireSmart projects to reduce forest fuels near infrastructure. Vegetation will be hand-thinned with chainsaws and debris burned on site, conditions permitting. Planned sites include the village of Lake Louise (Fairview Drive area) and The Lodge at Bow Lake.
- While work is underway in the Fairview Drive area of Lake Louise, a section of the east side of the Bow River Loop Trail will be closed south of Lake Louise Drive. Full details about area closures can be found, here.
- Please respect all closures and warning signs.
Email notification lists
- Smoke notification list: Residents who are sensitive to smoke can receive advance warning of burning.
- Community stakeholders list: Fire information for local organizations and businesses who wish to stay informed about fire operations.
To be added to either email notification list, please contact:
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