Friday, April 25, 2014

Successful prescribed fire in Waterton Lakes National Park

Red Rock ground ignition
photos courtesy of  Parks Canada
Parks Canada press release

Parks Canada fire management staff are confident that they met objectives for the prescribed fire in Waterton Lakes National Park Thursday, April 24. They were able to reduce aspen and evergreen tree expansion onto grasslands in two burn areas, to restore native prairie.

Eskerine burned area
Approximately 1800 ha were burned in the grasslands adjacent to the park entrance road and Red Rock Parkway, in areas known as the Eskerine Complex and the east portion of the adjoining Red Rock Complex.

Helcopter with bucket
Ground crews started burning at 11:00 a.m., followed by aerial ignition from a helicopter. The work was carried out by Parks Canada staff in Waterton Lakes National Park, with assistance from fire management staff from Kootenay/Yoho/Lake Louise Field Unit, and two helicopters.

Red Rock burned area below Mount Galwey


Prescribed fires are carried out only when a set of predetermined conditions relating to weather, terrain, fire behaviour, fire control and smoke management is fully met. Burning only occurs in conditions that allow the fire to be controlled and contained within identified boundaries, and which minimize the amount and duration of smoke affecting neighbouring lands. Parks Canada works closely with its neighbours to ensure that they are aware of prescribed fire plans, and that the plans are respectful of regional concerns.

Historic photographs of Waterton Lakes National Park show that fire suppression has allowed trees to encroach on park grasslands, with as much as 30% of grasslands lost over the last 100 years. Parts of these areas were burned previously in 2006.

Parks Canada’s goal for fire management in national parks is to restore and maintain historical fire frequency, while protecting the public and facilities from wildfires. Restoring fire is important to the health of the ecosystem, including the wildlife it supports.

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