Spring burn season is over
By Trish Barnes
Weather, safety and smoke are always factors when it comes to pulling off prescribed burns in the Rocky Mountain Trench.
The Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration Program (Trench ER) had planned four burns this April in the narrow window between dry out and green up, and was able to conduct two burns.
Trench ER burns enhance wildlife habitat by restoring grasslands and open forests—they are planned and executed by Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource staff, under the guidance of the Trench ER program partnership.
“Only two of the prescribed burns were ignited this month,” said Randy Harris, ER team leader. “Both looked good and we’ll be doing follow-up assessments to ascertain the degree of success.”
The two burn locations were:
• The old Kimberley Airport, off Miller Road, six kilometres south of Ta Ta Creek. (540 hectares burned on April 24 with additional mop-up on April 25 and 26.)
• Yankee-Canuck Lakes area in Premier Lake Provincial Park. (96 hectares, burned on April 25 with additional mop-up on April 26.)
Local crews from the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch Southeast Fire Centre conducted the burns using plans prepared to achieve specific objectives for each fire.
“Personnel were given valuable training in the classroom and during operations that will pay large dividends in the end when these tactics are utilized on wildfires,” said burn boss Mike Morrow of the fire centre.
Ecosystem restoration projects have been ongoing on these sites for several years. “Previous thinning treatments have reduced forest stands to where low-intensity, controlled burns can be introduced,” Harris said. “The burns improve grazing for elk and cattle, enhance habitat for badgers and other wildlife, and restore open forest and grassland ecosystems, which are vital to the overall health of the Rocky Mountain Trench.”
Funding for this season’s prescribed burns is provided by the B.C. Government’s Land Based Investment program and the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.
Visit www.trench-er.com to learn about ecosystem restoration in the Trench.
About the Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration Program (Trench ER Program)
• A successful partnership of government, industry and the public since 1998.
• Long-term goal is to restore grasslands and open forests in the East Kootenay/Upper Columbia Valley to their former fire-maintained condition.
• Treatments include thinning forest ingrowth and re-introducing fire to the landscape via controlled burns.
• Restoration takes place from Radium Hot Springs to the U.S. border on Crown land, in provincial and National parks, on private conservation properties and First Nations reserves.
• Benefits of restoring grasslands and open forests: Enhances biodiversity; restores habitat for species at risk; improves natural grazing for domestic cattle, elk, deer and bighorn sheep; improves forest health; and reduces the risk of severe wildfire.
· BC Ministry of Agriculture
· BC Ministry of Environment
· BC Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
· BC Parks
· BC Timber Sales
· East Kootenay Wildlife Association
· Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program (Columbia Basin)
· Galloway Lumber Co. Ltd.
· Kinbasket Development Corporation
· Kootenay Livestock Association
· Nupqu Development Corporation
· Parks Canada
· Range Advisory Group, Rocky Mountain Resource District
· Rocky Mountain Trench Natural Resources Society (Trench Society) representing: Cranbrook Archery Club, Cranbrook Community Forest Society, East Kootenay Wildlife Association, East Kootenay Wild Turkey Association, Kootenay Livestock Association, Rocky Mountain Naturalists, Southern Guides & Outfitters Association, The Land Conservancy of BC – Kootenay Region, Waldo Stockbreeders Association, Wildsight, Windermere District Farmers Institute.
· St. Mary’s Indian Band (Aqam)
· The Nature Conservancy of Canada
· The Nature Trust of British Columbia
Above photo: Aerial view of a low-intensity prescribed burn ignition (April 24) that took place on lands adjacent to the old Kimberley airport last week. The burn will help restore open forest and grassland habitat in the Rocky Mountain Trench. Photo by Andre Chalabi