Prescribed burns are planned for the East Kootenays this week, assuming the weather forecast holds. First comes Raymond and Donald (Disappearing) Creeks elevation drainages south of the Elk River in the Galton Range on Wednesday. The next day, September 1, are two areas east of Wasa in the Estella and Wolf Creek areas.
The objective of these burns, combined at approximately 1000 ha, is to enhance wildlife habitat, particularly Mule Deer and Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep. Plumes of smoke will be visible from surrounding areas on Wednesday and Thursday.
“Fire is a natural part of forests in our region,” says Allana Oestreich, Ecosystems Biologist with BC Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations. “These burns help maintain open sight lines and migration corridors that are key habitat components for both these species.” No timber values are targeted as the burn boundaries are outside of operable forestry areas, she adds.
There are other added benefits to these prescribed burns. Lit under specific weather conditions and working with existing natural and human-made fire breaks, prescribed burns such as these use topographic features to control the fire. These fires burn upslope toward timber line and use north aspect slopes that are naturally cooler and wetter as natural guards.
Prescribed burns such as these are one tool local natural resource managers use to reduce fuels in a controlled manner. “These burns tie in with landscape level fuel breaks,” notes Oestreich.
These burns also tie in with ongoing efforts by the Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration Program at lower elevations. Combined with previous fuel reduction programs, these burns make larger natural fire guards in the event of unplanned wildfires caused by lightning or human carelessness. BC Wildfire Service is an active partner in this effort and will be present throughout.
The Galton burn is funded by Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization that manages surcharges to hunting, fishing and trapping licenses to enhance fish and wildlife populations and habitat throughout British Columbia.
The Estella / Wolf Creeks burn is funded by the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program, managed by BC Hydro to compensate for fish and wildlife impacts resulting from BC Hydro dams.
Other partners in this project include the BC Wildfire Service, BC Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations the Rocky Mountain Trench Natural Resources Society. These actions are example of the high level of cooperation of natural resource managers in the East Kootenay. Their focus on ecosystem restoration, habitat enhancement and wildfire fuel reduction are part of a very successful regional program.
The Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration Program has operated as a successful partnership of government, industry, First Nations, NGOs and the public since 1998. Please see www.trench-er.com for more information.