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Smoke in the area may be coming from prescribed burns

A test burn at the Brewery Ridge site occured on April 25. - Photo submitted
A test burn at the Brewery Ridge site occured on April 25.
— image credit: Photo submitted

 

If you have seen smoke in the sky east of Fort Steele this week, don’t worry: If conditions are right, crews will have conducted a low-intensity prescribed burn on Brewery Ridge, Wednesday, April 30.

The burn will be conducted by Wildfire Management Branch, in conjunction with the Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration Program.

The 190-hectare site on Brewery Ridge is just north of the two-kilometre marker on the Wildhorse River Forest Service Road. This site has received pre-burn thinning treatment and is a high-priority for ecosystem restoration because it’s vital Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep habitat.

Crews from Wildfire Management were on site last week to conduct test burns. The burn this week will be ignited only if weather conditions meet B.C.’s smoke control regulations and if ground conditions allow fires to be managed safely.

Historically, the forest in the Rocky Mountain Trench was renewed through frequent, low-intensity ground fires. Such fires removed the shrubby understory and created a relatively open forest with large, healthy trees. The exclusion of fire from the landscape over recent decades has increased the fuels that contribute to the risk of more intense and damaging fires, and reduced the amount of open grasslands in the Rocky Mountain Trench. Combined with other factors, the resulting forest ingrowth has caused an overall deterioration in wildlife habitat, cattle forage and forest values.

The reintroduction of low-intensity ground fires to these forests is intended to maintain and restore what ecologists describe as a ‘fire-maintained, Douglas fir, fescue grass community,’ which is natural for these sites.

These fires are part of an ongoing restoration program administered by the provincial government.

For more information, visit www.trench-er.com.

The public is invited to contact the Ecosystem Restoration Program as noted below to discuss the use of fire as a management tool and other aspects of the ecosystem restoration program.

Funding for this burn is being provided by the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program.

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