Minnekhada Regional Park in Metro Vancouver fully reopens after a fall wildfire
Minnekhada Regional Park has fully reopened to the public months after a devastating wildfire.
The fire burned through 14 acres of the park in Coquitlam, BC, in unusually hot and dry conditions in October last year. Investigators later determined it was a human cause.
“This could have been a lot more dangerous than it was, but it was kept under control,” said John McEwan, chairman of Metro Vancouver Regional Parks.
He credits the Coquitlam Fire Department, BC Wildfire Service, Metro Vancouver watersheds and Metro Vancouver Regional Parks for their work in containing the fire.
While the park partially reopened after the fire was put out in late October, many areas were closed to allow crews to conduct safety assessments and remove hazardous materials.
restoration in progress
The Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD), which manages the park, said in a statement that the restoration is underway.
More than $14,000 in donations has been raised to support restoration efforts in the region, which are being conducted by the regional district in partnership with the Minnekhada Park Association and the Metro Vancouver Regional Parks Foundation.
“Much of the recovery will happen naturally. Our forests are resilient,” said Pat Smith, regional director of park operations.
He adds that four to six target areas for a go-ahead restoration have been identified with newly planted shrubs, trees and vegetation.
“We are very excited to welcome people back… We wanted to reopen the park as soon as possible and as safely as possible,” he said.
Visitors are advised to stay on the designated trails due to the dangers of wildfire damage.
There will be increased staff presence on the trails and a strict no-smoking policy, the statement said.
Mitigation of future forest fires
According to Smith, the changes in Minnekhada include new approaches to containing future wildfires.
He said the team is ready for the upcoming fire season, which runs from April to October, but climate change has made the seasons more unpredictable.
“In the lower mainland, we typically consider October, November and December to be fairly rainy months,” Smith said, adding that September and October last year were unusually dry months.
“All of our wildfire equipment is ready…so if anything happens, we can take care of it quickly.”
McEwan says he’s excited to see how people enjoy the area’s natural spaces, but hopes they’ll help conserve them too.
“We want to keep the parks open, but we want to educate people about the responsibilities they have to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”