Residents of Williams Lake should expect to see smoke in the Bond Lake area close to town sometime between Sept. 19 until mid-October.
A planned burn operation during that time will be led by Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) as part of an ecosystem restoration project.
Some preparatory burning of blacklines may take place prior to these dates as well.
WLFN will be working with the B.C. Wildfire Service and also with some support from Alkali Resource Management (ARM) personnel to complete the burn.
The area to be burned includes an area around Bond Lake of about 140 hectares and an area around the Thunder Mountain Speedway of about 100 hectares.
The project has been about two and a half years in development and planning with on-the-ground field treatment operations having started in March of 2021.
The benefits of the ecosystem restoration project are expected to include reduction of wildfire risk, re-establishing traditional cultural burning practices, and improving wildlife habitat by allowing for more vibrant vegetation growth. Restoring the more natural ecosystem of the forest will make it less susceptible to drought, insects and catastrophic fire.
Even the work done so far has garnered some visible benefits.
“Once you opened up the stand, heart-leaved arnica really came back strong, it was just a blanket of yellow in June. So then you have all your pollinators coming and if you have pollinators then you have food for birds – it all goes hand in hand,” explained John Walker, stewardship forester for WLFN.
Walker said signs will be posted at roads and trails leading into the project area and people need to stay out while the burn is taking place.
Burn ignition will depend on fair and good venting conditions.
Those with respiratory issues or experiencing any sensitivity to smoke may want to limit their outdoor physical activity in the area while burning is underway.
Anyone with questions can contact John Walker at WLFN at 778-417-0182.