Prescribed burns assist in the restoration of ecosystems

Prescribed burns are taking place in the areas west of Williams Lake between now and Nov. 16 weather conditions permitting.

  • Oct. 24, 2012 9:00 a.m.

Prescribed burns are planned at Ward Creek,  Becher’s Prairie, and the Farwell Canyon area west of Williams Lake between now and Nov. 16 weather conditions permitting.

Hugh Flinton, ecosystem restoration manager with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Cariboo Region, said the burns are planned for ecosystem restoration purposes. Individual burns will be between 10 and 600 hectares in size.

The largest burn, is in the Ward Creek area north of Gang Ranch, Flinton told the Tribune Friday.

“It’s basically a grasslands wildlife burn to support California bighorn sheep habitat. We haven’t done burns there for over 25 years,” Flinton explained, adding the burn will decrease sagebrush and Douglas-fir encroachment.

Sagebrush is fire-origin and fire-controlled, and over time as forest fires are fought and extinguished, it increases.

“It can choke out some of the native grasses and fire rejuvenates that ecosystem and puts it back the way it should be when fire’s on the landscape,” Flinton said.

Flinton credited Gang Ranch manager Larry Ramstad’s co-operation with the burning program.

“Part of the burn on Ward Creek goes across Gang Ranch deeded property. Without his co-operation that burn would never have been as successful as it was,” he said.

Sharon MacDonald at the Cariboo Fire Centre said Friday a crew of the centre’s firefighters were on site at the Gang Ranch.

“The burn has been very successful. We were able to cover about 1,200 hectares,” she said.

The work in the Becher’s Prairie was first initiated in the spring, however, when it became too dry to complete, the work was put on hold.

Burns in the Farwell Canyon area will only resume if the weather turns dry again, Flinton said.

“Our work there is concentrated up above the Chilcotin River on the south side.”

The 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.

MacDonald confirmed that most forest fires that had been of concern to the fire centre have now been called out.

As of Friday there was still a small forest fire, in the patrol stage, in the Canim Lake area that is located in a difficult blow down area,  Macdonald added.