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Prescribed burns planned for Cariboo-Chilcotin
It is that time of year when the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations conducts prescribed burns and several are planned for areas south and west of Williams Lake beginning the end of September up until Oct. 31.
Weather permitting, they will start the week of Sept. 30, said Hugh Flinton for the ministry's ccosystem restoration range branch Friday afternoon.
"You want the winds to be right, you want the air temperature to be all right, and you want the humidity to be correct as well," Flinton explained, adding he hopes the current weather pattern dries out a little bit.
"Conditions were really dry before the rain we had last weekend, too dry probably to get the impact we want."
Prescribed burns are planned for Beecher's Prairie along Highway 20 at the Toosey turnoff, approximately 220 hectares; Bald Mountain south of Riske Creek, approximately 150 hectares; Deer Creek in the Alexis Creek area, approximately 100 hectares; Crow's Bar in the Fraser River area, south of Dog Creek, approximately 3,000 hectares; and at Ward Creek in the Fraser River area, north of Gang Ranch, approximately 400 hectares.
In these identified areas, the fire will actually kill the conifers — small fir trees and small pine trees — that are encroaching on the grasslands, Flinton said.
"You need that fire to kill the small seedlings within the grassland."
The fires also helps release nutrients for regrowth in the spring time and make the grassland more resilient and healthy, he added.
Praising the Cariboo Fire Centre for its ongoing support by helping and freeing up crews to help with the program, Flinton said it's a win for the centre because crews can learn about fire in a controlled environment.
Normally it takes anywhere from 15 to 30 crew members to conduct one prescribed burn, taking into account preparation time, the actual burn day and the after burn cleanup, he explained.
Historically, the grasslands of the Cariboo-Chilcotin were renewed through frequent, low-intensity ground fires, and currently local First Nations crews participate with the ministry by doing the slashing of small trees - up to two feet tall - ahead of any prescribed burns.
"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," Flinton added.