Thursday, October 18, 2012

Controlled burns help restore Cariboo-Chilcotin grasslands

Chilcotin grasslands, near Farwell Canyon

BC grasslands have been shrinking for various reasons, encroaching "civilization" being one of them. Less obvious, because it happens more slowly, is the encroaching of trees. In the era of maximum fire-prevention, fires were extinguished and the trees steadily move into the grasslands. In recent years, realizing this, fire-fighting authorities have allowed selected controlled wildfires to burn themselves out; and deliberately started others, to help the restoration of more natural grassland. This is happening today in the Cariboo-Chilcotin grasslands.

Burns planned to restore Cariboo-Chilcotin grasslands
by BC Forest Fire Info on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 9:05am ·
WILLIAMS LAKE – Prescribed burns are planned in the Ward Creek, Becher’s Prairie, and Farwell Canyon area west of Williams Lake between now and Nov. 16, 2012, weather conditions permitting.

The burns are planned for ecosystem restoration purposes. Individual burns will be between 10 and 600 hectares in size.

The largest burn, expected to be about 600 hectares, is in the Ward Creek area north of Gang Ranch. This burn will decrease sagebrush and Douglas-fir encroachment on critical California bighorn sheep habitat along the Fraser River.

Historically, the grasslands in the Cariboo-Chilcotin were renewed through frequent, low-intensity ground fires. Such fires prevented tree encroachment, rejuvenated under-story plants and maintained more open grasslands and forests with large trees. The reintroduction of managed, low-intensity ground fires to these grasslands is intended to restore and maintain the traditional grassland plant communities that are natural for these areas.
These fires are part of an ongoing ecosystem restoration program administered by the provincial government in consultation with First Nations, local ranchers, the B.C. Wildlife Federation and the Cariboo-Chilcotin Conservation Society.