The Wildfire Management Branch is planning to conduct an ecosystem restoration burn near Cherry Creek in the East Kootenay.
Burning will take place between April 19 and April 30, 2015, weather conditions permitting.
This controlled burn is part of the Rocky Mountain Ecosystem Restoration Program developed by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and the Ministry of Environment.
The burn will cover about 450 hectares and smoke may be visible from Kimberley, the Canadian Rockies International Airport, and along Highway 95A. Smoke may be present in the area for several days as fires within the burn control lines are extinguished. Wildfire Management Branch fire crews will monitor the area at all times.
Fire is a natural, normal process in many ecosystems. It can be beneficial and is necessary to maintain a healthy forest and a diversity of plant and animal life. Through evolution and exposure to wildfires, many plants and animals have adapted to fire and actually depend on it to regenerate.
Historically, the Rocky Mountain Trench has had an open valley bottom with very few trees present. Low-intensity fires tended to burn every five to seven years in the valley bottom, while fires burned at about 20-year intervals at higher elevations.
In the absence of fire in recent decades, these areas have become overgrown. A buildup of forest fuels (combustible materials such as underbrush, pine needles and wood debris) can increase the risk of more intense and damaging forest fires.
These ecosystem restoration burns — combined with logging activity, slash removal and brush clearing projects — will help these areas return to their natural state. The site of the Cherry Creek burn also is an important winter range and grazing ground for various ungulates, and provides wildlife habitat for animals such as badgers and Lewis’s woodpeckers.
This burn project is tied to the Artesian Pasture prescribed burn that took place in fall 2014. Together, these projects create a mosaic of treated areas on the landscape that will help protect Kimberley and nearby communities from catastrophic wildfires.
Prescribed fires may be ignited only on days when the forecast for the venting index is “good”. All prescribed fires must comply with the Environmental Management Act’s open burning smoke control regulation, which helps minimize the amount of smoke that‘s produced.
To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.
For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit: http://www.bcwildfire.ca
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