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Posted: April 23, 2014

Koocanusa burn ‘hit the window’ and ‘stayed in the box’

On April 14, crews from B.C.’s Wildfire Management Branch conducted a low-intensity, prescribed burn in the Bare Mountain area (Lat/Long 49 10.790 x 115 15.750). The site is very close to Englishman’s Creek Provincial Recreation Site and the Sweetwater Lake Village at Koocanusa Reservoir.

Burn boss Andre Chalabi said he was pleased with the day’s outcome. “Safety is our top priority when doing these burns,” he said, “and this was a safe, low-intensity event—exactly how we planned it.

“The ignition crew did a great job of lighting up and the containment crew made sure the burn stayed in ‘the box’ at all times.”

The 231-hectare site had been logged in 2006 and thinned by Galloway Lumber Company, (Job Opportunity Program crews) in 2008. The prior treatment made the burn easier to initiate in the extremely narrow spring ‘burn window’—when temperature, humidity and wind conspired to create safe and effective conditions.

Trench ER Team Leader Randall Harris said: “The burn seems to have hit our resource objectives—it carried better than we expected.”

Harris will return to the site in about six weeks to observe and measure the burn treatment results. The area is grazing habitat for Rocky Mountain elk and both types of deer (white-tailed and mule), and is also part of a local ranch’s grazing unit for its cattle.

The resource objectives of the controlled burn were to:

• Reduce fuels less than five centimetres in diameter by 80%;

• Kill 80% of ingrown trees less than three metres tall;

• Maintain seedbank and nutrients by creating a moderate impact fire over 75% of the burn area;

• Rejuvenate grasses and avoid killing grass growing points;

• Lift live tree canopy to 1.5 metres;

• Cover 75% of the burn area.

The Trench ER program, working with the Wildfire Management Branch, will conduct a handful of prescribed burns in the coming weeks, as long as weather allows.

Every effort is made to ensure smoke levels are tolerable, burns are safe and the treatment is effective.

For more information on these prescribed burns, please visit

Above photo:  Members of the BC Wildfire Management Branch observe a controlled, prescribed burn that took place near Koocanusa Reservoir on Monday. The burn—part of an overall ecosystem restoration plan—treated 231 hectares to help improve resource values.

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