The BC Wildfire Service is planning to conduct a series of ecosystem restoration burns in the East Kootenay. Burning will take place between Sept. 19 and mid-October, 2015, weather permitting.
These controlled burns are part of the Rocky Mountain Ecosystem Restoration Program developed by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and the Ministry of Environment.
Areas scheduled for prescribed ecosystem restoration burns are as follows:
- Raymond and Donald Creek – These areas, totalling 450 hectares, are located in the Galton range. Smoke will be visible from Highway 93 and from the communities of Jaffray, Baynes Lake, Koocanusa and Elko.
- Wolf Creek – This 250-hectare area is located above Quartz Lake, in the Premier Lake Provincial Park. Smoke from this prescribed burn will be visible from Wasa Lake and Highways 93 and 95.
- Estella Face – This 150-hectare area is south of Lazy Lake. Smoke will be visible from several areas, including Wasa, TaTa Creek and Highways 93 and 95.
- Burn Bottom – This 380-hectare scheduled burn is next to the community of Kragmont, near Baynes Lake. There has been previous slashing work done to this area. Smoke from this project will be visible from highway 93 and the communities of Baynes Lake, Jaffray, Elko and surrounding areas.
Smoke may be present in these areas for several days as fires within the burn control lines remain active. BC Wildfire Service personnel will monitor these prescribed burns until they are extinguished.
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 build-up 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 sites of these prescribed burns are also important winter ranges and grazing grounds for various ungulates, and provide wildlife habitat for animals such as badgers and Lewis’s woodpeckers.
Prescribed fires may only be ignited on days when the forecasted 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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