For weeks Resort Municipality councilors expressed concerns about the fate of hundreds of fallen trees in the Cavendish area under Parks Canada’s jurisdiction in the PEI National Park.
On Jan 14 Parks Canada emailed a written statement following a request from the Stanley Bridge Centre website.
The full statement is provided below:
“Parks Canada manages one of the finest and most extensive systems of protected natural and cultural heritage areas in the world. We are aware of fallen trees on its properties along Highways 6 and 13 in Cavendish. Safety is always our number one priority and our trained Dangerous Tree Assessors have examined the area and have removed trees that have the potential for safety risk and exposure to persons. The determination on which trees to remove was based on industry standards and assessed exposure.
“Parks Canada takes wildfire risk reduction activities seriously and is taking the necessary steps to reduce the threat of wildfires in all areas of the park. In this regard, Parks Canada developed a fuel modification prioritization tool that utilizes national FireSmart standards to identify forest areas at risk based on scientific methodology. All fuel modification (forest thinning) work in PEI National Park is justified through this evaluation tool and the program resources are managed in accordance with this assessment. Most recently, in the Cavendish area, forest stands surrounding the Cavendish Campground and the Cavendish Visitor Information Centre have been treated. The safety of the public, our crews, park infrastructure and neighboring lands is always our number one priority.
“We acknowledge the community’s concerns regarding the aesthetics of the senescent white spruce stands visible from Highway 6. Forest stands in PEI National Park are identified for management actions (i.e. stand thinning/restoration) based on Parks Canada’s priorities of ecological integrity, visitor safety, and fire risk. This type of forest provides valuable habitat for many species of animals and is an important part of a forest ecosystem. Should it become necessary, we will consider these stands in the future as opportunities for forest restoration programs arise.”
In an earlier interview Resort Municipality CAO Brenda MacDonald and Mayor Matthew Jelley, among others, voiced their frustrations about the slow progress made dealing with hundreds of fallen trees in early December.
Brenda MacDonald stated recently area residents had approached her and Council seeking action. Some had offered to help cut and clear away the fallen trees, which could become a fire and safety hazard in the spring and summer months.
The issue first surfaced at planning board meeting in December in which the spectre of California-style wildfires was raised.