We’re borrowing the above headline from a public advisory issued this week by Island Information Service on behalf of the Department of Environment, Labour and Justice.
This is not a new advisory; ones like it are issued every spring.
And they are issued because citizens persist on burning off weeds and brush, hoping the black mat they create will soon be transformed into a smooth green carpet of grass. Then they let it all grow back up again so that the cycle can be repeated the following spring.
What’s the point? If the dead weeds, grass and brush stay there they will eventually be taken over by new growth anyway. If persons were so concerned about the weeds and the grass they would invest in a mower and keep the area trimmed all year. At least then the mulch and the clippings would be allowed to decay and provide nourishment for the soil. Burning destroys organic matter.
But, worse than that, burning presents the very real risk of having the fire get out of control and spreading into woods and other peoples properties. Every year fire departments have to be dispatched to put out such fires and to save structures in harm’s way. Those resources are needed for emergencies and, indeed, once those fires rage out of control, they are emergencies, just entirely preventable. Quite often, nobody seems to “know” how those fires start. In short, those who set the fires decline to take responsibility for their careless actions.
There are fines associated with lighting grass fires without a permit. Even if that is not enough to put an end to the decades-old practice, then knowing that those fires have been known to get out of control and cause thousands of dollars of damage and summon the intervention of volunteers who could be doing something more productive with their time really should do it. Yet the problem persists.
After all the miserable weather we’ve had this spring – which actually delayed or shortened the grass fire season – we’re finally getting some good weather just in time for the Victoria Day long weekend. Here are a couple of ideas for getting out and enjoying it: pay a visit to the Charlottetown area on Monday and try to catch a glimpse of our future king, Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, or take advantage of free family fishing weekend. Of course, with free angling from Friday to Monday, there’s probably no reason Islanders can’t choose both. Family fun and culture all in the one long weekend.