The City of Saskatoon’s Prescribed Fire Program is part of an overall strategy to enhance and conserve the biodiversity of naturalized areas in Saskatoon parks.
The City of Saskatoon’s Parks Department, with support from the Meewasin Valley Authority and the Saskatoon Fire Department, conduct brief, small-scale prescribed fires in select naturalized park areas when required (typically each spring and fall).
What is a prescribed fire?
A prescribed fire is the planned and controlled application of fire to a defined area of land. Prescribed fires replicate the natural renewal process of grasslands, reduce the risk of wildfire and enhance habitat for wildlife.
Most people view fire as damaging and destructive, yet without fire, many ecosystems fail to regenerate. Naturalized areas that have been burned experience vigorous new growth, are less susceptible to disease and weed infestation and provide an enhanced habitat for wildlife. Many cities in Canada and the United States have been performing prescribed fires effectively and safely for many years, including Parks Canada, who uses prescribed fires to maintain and restore forest ecosystems in national parks.
What to expect?
Prescribed fires are performed by trained Parks staff, and the Saskatoon Fire Department is either on-site or on call to help manage the fire if needed. Many elements are considered when planning a prescribed fire, such as weather conditions, landscape, vegetation and public safety.
Residents will be notified via the City of Saskatoon’s service alerts (sign up at saskatoon.ca/servicealerts) and social media channels prior to each fire.
The following can be expected during and after a prescribed fire:
- Small areas of land are burned during a fire, so only portions of a park are blackened at any given time
- Residents and visitors that frequent parks are asked to stay away from prescribed fire areas and can expect smoke in the surrounding area
- Shrubs and trees are not burned and therefore are not negatively impacted
- Vigorous new growth occurs following a fire (in a matter of weeks in the spring), which is appreciated by wildlife
- The reduction in accumulated dead plant material provides protection against accidental wildfires
For more information, view the Prescribed Fires Fact Sheet.