Fall burns around the corner

Restoration season starts this week with ‘black-lining’

  • Sep. 5, 2013 8:00 a.m.

As the heat of summer fades away, it’s time again to conduct prescribed burns in the Rocky Mountain Trench.

A handful of prescribed burns are planned to help open up areas of forest in-growth and to restore better habitat, diversity and wildfire resilience to the landscape. Altogether, two burns on Crown land and one burn on Nature Conservancy of Canada land will treat close to 900 hectares.

“This week, small crews from the Wildfire Management Branch will be ‘black-lining’ the two Crown land areas,” said Randy Harris, team leader of the Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration Program.

Black-lining is a preparation treatment to create buffer zones around the area boundaries. “It removes most of the fuel around the boundary areas,” Harris said. “Prescribed burns on the areas will come later in September.”

Local crews from the provincial Wildfire Management Branch Southeast Fire Centre will conduct the black-lining this week, and the burns—if weather and conditions permit—by the end of the month.

The two Crown land locations are: Artesian Springs, just south of McGinty Lake near Meadowbrook (387 hectares); and Cutts Road, six kilometres south of Elko (394 hectares).

In addition, a burn at the Nature Conservancy of Canada Kootenay River Ranch site will occur, but not under the auspices of the Southeast Fire Centre crews.

Ecosystem restoration projects are ongoing on these sites. The initial thinning—and the follow-up burns—improve grazing for elk and cattle and enhance habitat for badgers. The Cutts Road burn will improve habitat for Lewis’ Woodpecker.

Each fire is ignited only when weather conditions meet B.C.’s smoke control regulations and when ground conditions allow fires to be managed safely. Prescribed burns mimic the frequent low-intensity ground fires that historically maintained grasslands and open forests in the East Kootenay and Upper Columbia Valley.

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 more about ecosystem restoration in the Rocky Mountain Trench.