Province Not About To Abandon “Let It Burn” Policy

Thursday, July 14, 2005 at 14:46



Saskatchewan Environment is defending its so-called “let it burn” policy in the face of mounting criticism from outfitters and cabin owners.


The one-year-old policy sees crews sent to battle forest fires north of the Churchill River only when communities or valuable timber is at risk.


Department spokesman Steve Roberts acknowledges three cabins north of La Ronge have been lost to fires in that region recently, but says that is a risk that comes with setting up shop in the middle of the woods.


Roberts admits there are times available resources are deliberately kept from engaging a fire, but he maintains holding off is the best way to control the build-up of fire fuel on the forest floor.


He points out that this is likely why a 1,000-hectare fire became a 12,000-hectare blaze in one day near Howe’s Lake.


Roberts also refutes assertions that the policy is the product of a tough budget year in 2004, and not science.


He says Saskatchewan is one of the last jurisdictions in Canada to implement this type of program — noting that Alberta and Ontario went ahead with the measure without the kind of budget restraints the Saskatchewan government faced.