Walking along the 17th at Gilwood these days you see numerous piles of brush and wood. It was hauled out, cut up and piled by a crew of volunteers and others on Sunday, Aug. 27.
Gilwood and the Summerwood subdivision are next to each other at that point, and the first-annual FireSmart clean-up event was a joint effort for both. Turnout was great, says Connie Schultz, one of the main organizers.
“Lots of workers!” she says. “Fifteen to 20 volunteers,” and about the same number of people from the FireSmart, Fire Department and HAC crews.
Volunteers were mostly Summerwood residents and Gilwood staff.
The goal of such projects is to reduce the available fuel for wildfires. The bush around Summerwood and much of the Gilwood back nine has never been cleaned up of deadfall and snags (dead standing trees). There’s an awful lot of it in there, Schultz says, and it will take several such clean-up bees to get it all out.
“There’s a lot of bush in there,” she says, adding that the hope is to make it an annual event.
FireSmart Coordinator Brandy Walters says golfers will find the forest floor “significantly opened,” along the 17th fairway, “meaning golfers will have an easier time finding any lost banana balls, double cross and duck hooks.”
Not to mention the fact that a fire will find less to fuel to sustain it, should one break out.
More from Walters: “All of the FS Crew were there and brought out their awesome BBQ Firetruck, much appreciated by the crowd. The FireSmart crew included Crew Lead Patrick McConnell, Sub Lead Ryan Coutts, Member Logan Skahl, Member Adam Shirley and Student Zoey Pearson.
“Alberta Wildland Firefighter HAC crews were out in very good number too and included: Cody Tomashewski and Tony Campbell, Nathan Rainnie, Dillon Friesen, Brandon Sharpe, Sheldon Houle, Dan Onaczyszyn, Mike Turcotte, Jeremy Ilgert and Robb David. These guys were keen to stay working on powersaws and the work demanded it.
“There were approximately 17 volunteers registered for the event from the Summerwood subdivision and from Slave Lake. Thanks to everyone who came out to lend a helping hand on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. A relatively short working bee with amazing results!”
Aftermath – piles of wood to be burned along the 17th hole at Gilwood, with lots more still to be cleaned up.