“Let It Burn” Policy Likely Staying Put

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 at 15:03



Saskatchewan Environment officials appear reluctant to abandon a practice of simply observing forest fires that are more than 20 kilometres from communities north of the Churchill River.


The department has taken a lot of heat for its so-called “let it burn” policy, especially after a fire that was initially observed ended up forcing evacuations in Stony Rapids and Black Lake this summer.


The government is currently reviewing its policy — a process that has included some recent face-to-face meetings with northern leaders.


However, department spokesman Steve Roberts says it would be difficult to walk away from their current policy, since they would need at least 18 months to come up with a new one.


Roberts also says there are ways to improve response times for initial attack crews and water bombers without making policy changes.


As well, Roberts insists the policy isn’t to blame for situations like the one this past summer. He says the department has the freedom to attack blazes that are outside the 20-kilometre buffer zone.