Weather, safety and smoke are always factors when it comes to pulling off prescribed burns in the 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 Operations 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.