YG to develop a capital plan to thwart forest fires

A report, which hasn’t been made public, is to inform it

The Southern Lakes Region is one area Yukon government-backed research has identified as being at high risk of a forest fire.

Military drills are slated to occur this spring in case a fire does eventually break out there, said John Streicker, minister of community services.

“We think there’s a lot of risk. The Southern Lake forest is a very old, very mature forest and we’re very concerned about that risk creating an interface fire,” he told reporters on April 2. “That’s exactly why we chose Operation Nanook to go right in that place.”

Streicker, whose riding includes Southern Lakes, said he has received a report that pinpoints sensitive areas where fires could start. A capital plan would be based off the research. He said the findings could eventually be released.

The idea would be to gradually turn a coniferous forest into a more deciduous one, Streicker said. The work would be ongoing.

“The fire risk is very different across those two.”

The issue came up during question period, with Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers asking what strategies the Liberals are working with to curb future fires, including targeted harvesting of coniferous trees and increasing farmland, which can provide a firebreak.

Streicker said he’s been working with Ministers Ranj Pillai and Richard Mostyn to figure out how to lessen fuel loads and turn it into biomass.

“We are doing many things. We are rebuilding the Whitehorse air tanker base starting this year. We have lined up Operation Nanook with the Canadian military to happen this spring so that we can work with our firefighters as part of that exercise. There is a range of things that we’re doing.”

In response to Cathers’ question about farmland, Pillai, minister of energy, mines and resources, told the legislative assembly about an agricultural policy update.

“It has been about 10 years since we have had a renewal in our agricultural policy work. Our team is going back out for discussions with the Yukon Agricultural Association, Growers of Organic Food Yukon and others. There is a language that we are looking to ground-truth, and this is really about what happens with agricultural lands, and therefore, that will define how we develop in our near future,” he said.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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