JEAN MORIN, fire management officer
Wildfires have been shaping the landscape of the park for thousands of years. It’s a fire-prone, fire-dependent ecosystem larger than Switzerland, so we can let some fires go with minimum interference, which benefits the landscape and helps maintain ecological integrity. Fire season really starts when lightning season starts, usually in late spring. Depending on how much it rains later in the season, about 500 square kilometres is burned every year by an average of 31 fires, and I would say 99 per cent are lightning-caused. We do smoke-patrol flights to monitor fires; we suppress them near roadways, facilities and communities; and we ignite our own fires when necessary to kill the momentum of wildfires by bringing them to natural features, such as water sources or bogs, on our own terms.
Clockwise from this image: a forest fire is left to burn; pine cones, which don’t release their seeds until triggered by fire; birds feed on the shore of Lake Claire; the salt plains.