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IN PHOTOS: Controlled burns helping Kenna ecosystem

A tree goes up in flames during a prescribed burn at Kenna Cartwright Park this week.
March 05, 2015 - 2:56 PM

KAMLOOPS - Highly visible prescribed burns are underway at Kenna Cartwright Park and two local natural resource professors are happy the work is finally being done.

Wendy Gardner and John Karakatsoulis both say the burns are necessary to bring the park back to its natural state and allow native vegetation to flourish.

“This park is a very unique ecosystem. We have bunchgrass, we have sage and of course we have ponderosa pine,” Karakatsoulis notes. “These systems have evolved with fire, fire is a natural disturbance process. It burns off material and replenishes the area, makes it more viable.”

Natural sciences professor John Karakatsoulis says the prescribed burn at Kenna Cartwright Park will help the ecosystem.
Natural sciences professor John Karakatsoulis says the prescribed burn at Kenna Cartwright Park will help the ecosystem.

He notes these types of controlled burns are about the health of our natural surroundings, including pest management.

“We had that epidemic of pine beetle that came in and killed many of these trees. Fires in a way are able to keep those pests down to a minimum. The fire also allows nutrients to replenish and keep everything healthy over a longer period of time.”

B.C. Wildfire is working with the city to perform prescribed burns at Kenna Cartwright Park.
B.C. Wildfire is working with the city to perform prescribed burns at Kenna Cartwright Park.

Aside from keeping our ecosystem healthy, controlled burns also play a role in keeping homes and other structures safe. Controlled burns are low intensity and help remove debris that could fuel a larger fire that could threaten properties.

“Doing prescribed burns can help reduce the risk. We can never stop a fire from occurring, but we can reduce the intensity,” Gardner says. “There’s definitely a role for using prescribed burns from both an ecological restoration and a fuel management perspective. They play a good role, but I wouldn’t say we should use it everywhere.”

Wendy Gardner, a Thompson Rivers University natural sciences professor, is happy to see a prescribed burn taking place at Kenna Cartwright Park.
Wendy Gardner, a Thompson Rivers University natural sciences professor, is happy to see a prescribed burn taking place at Kenna Cartwright Park.

Burns took place on total of seven hectares at Kenna Cartwright Park. Crews finished the burns Thursday, March 5 but will continue mop-up over the next several days. The warmer and drier weather has allowed crews to get in earlier than usual, though this is the first time prescribed burns have been used in the large urban nature park.

The park is littered with trees killed by the pine beetle and an abundance of sage and noxious weeds taking over the landscape, these factors led to the city deciding a controlled burn was necessary at the park.

The prescribed burns at Kenna Cartwright Park will help reduce the amount of sagebrush and allow bunchgrass to grow back, which will help stabilize the natural ecosystem.
The prescribed burns at Kenna Cartwright Park will help reduce the amount of sagebrush and allow bunchgrass to grow back, which will help stabilize the natural ecosystem.

The window for controlled burns is small so the city focused on Kenna Cartwright this spring and continue work in the Dallas-Barnhartvale Nature Park area. They will look at the possible need for a controlled burn in the Rose Hill Park area as well. Kirsten Wourms, with the city parks department, hopes more burns can take place at Kenna Cartwright in future years as well.

B.C. Wildfire is also working with local governments and Indian Bands in the Lytton and Spences Bridge areas to arrange controlled burns this spring. B.C. Wildfire consults with groups looking for help in planning prescribed burns, such as those taking place in the Okanagan.

B.C. Wildfire crews complete a prescribed burn at Kenna Cartwright Park this week.
B.C. Wildfire crews complete a prescribed burn at Kenna Cartwright Park this week.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infonews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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