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.
Prescribed fire in operation
View all planned prescribed fires in the mountain national parks.
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.
This area was previously burned in 2003, which significantly reduced the closed forest cover. A re-burn of the site is now required to reduce lodgepole pine regrowth, restore montane grasslands and open forests that historically occupied this area. These actions will improve habitat for wildlife, such as grizzly bears and create an important fuel break, protecting local communities such as the Hamlet of Harvie Heights and the Town of Canmore in the event of a wildfire. To help ensure smoke impacts are minimized, a minor burn may be conducted in the spring of 2022 with the main burn in the fall. Both burns 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 and FireSmart projects
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.
Learn more about how you can protect yourself and your community.
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.
Protection Mountain Fire Guard (expected completion spring 2023)
As early as December 1, 2022, Parks Canada will start work on the Protection Mountain Fire Guard. Once completed, this project will:
- Help reduce the risk of wildfire to the community of Lake Louise and surrounding area.
- Improve the safety of park visitors and residents.
- Enhance wildlife corridors and provide new feeding areas for local wildlife.
- Improve the ecology and increase resilience to climate change.
Mechanical tree removal will be used to remove large sections of trees within the project area. During operations, the public can expect to see heavy machinery and trucks hauling timber seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and smoke from burning debris piles near Protection Mountain Campground along Highway 1A. Work will be completed by spring 2023.
For safety, an area closure will be put in place by Parks Canada to prohibit public access to the project area. The area closure will include a 500 m portion of the Baker Creek to Protection Mountain Campground cross-country ski trail. Trail-users will have access to approximately 3 kms of the trail from Baker Creek to the project area closure at Protection Mountain. The Protection Mountain Campground to Castle Mountain Lookout and Castle Junction trails will remain unaffected by the project. For an up to date list of area closures, visit Important Bulletins.
By removing trees, a landscape-level fire guard will be created. The openings will slow the speed at which a wildfire can spread.
The open space will also create room for sun-loving plants to grow. This will encourage animals like bears, elk and deer to use this area.
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:
- Banff Field Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lake Louise, Yoho & Kootenay Field Unit at email@example.com
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