Prescribed burn in Kenna Cartwright Park starts today | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Prescribed burn in Kenna Cartwright Park starts today


KAMLOOPS - The City of Kamloops is partnering with the BC Wildfire Service, Kamloops Fire Rescue and a local contractor, who will act as burn boss, to perform a prescribed burn in Kenna Cartwright Nature Park this spring.

Starting today, March 14, the BC Wildfire Service will have a crew in the park doing site preparation work, which will include slashing and piling of debris, clearing areas around wildlife trees so that they are preserved, and ensuring that existing trails and roads are cleared and will act as fire boundaries.

A "black line" will be put in along the eastern boundary where there are no existing roads or natural fire guards. A black line consists of a controlled burn strip that prevents fire from spreading, since there are no longer fuels available in that area. Once the site preparation is finished, BC Wildfire Service staff and the burn boss will monitor the weather, venting index and site conditions, and will indicate when burning should occur.

Generally, there is about two days' notice before the burn begins, so park users and residents will have advance notice. Based on current conditions, the City hope to do the burn in March 2016. Signage will be put up at all the Kenna Cartwright Nature Park entrances explaining what a prescribed burn is and showing a map of the burn area. Park users are asked to stay out of the burn area for their safety, as well as the safety of crews working in the area.

Reasons for the prescribed burn:

Forest health - wildfires typically occur in the Ponderosa Pine biogeoclimatic zone as often as every 15 to 25 years. Because of their frequency, fires have played an important role in the ecology of this zone. Mature ponderosa pine trees have a thick bark and a self-pruning habit that prevents most fires from spreading upward to the crown. However, as fires speed through the understory, they burn off grasses and new growth, leaving behind a relatively bare forest floor and restricting regeneration of new trees. Historically, this pattern resulted in a mosaic of grasslands and open stands of pine. Currently there are many dense clumps of trees leading to increased risk of disease and insect predation, as well as a general decrease in tree health due to competition for water, nutrients and light. By opening up the stands, it will allow the trees to follow a more natural cycle of growth.

Community Wildfire Protection - In the mid-2000s the pine beetle epidemic went through the park killing approximately 90% of the pines. These have since fallen resulting in an increased amount of fuel loading in certain areas of the park. In recent times, as a result of fire suppression, dense stands of pines have replaced some of the more open stands, as well as some grasslands. These dense stands contain "ladder" fuels that will result in hotter and more abundant crown fires in the future. Because there is much housing in the Ponderosa Pine Zone, many private residences are at risk from wildfires or fires caused by humans. By going in and performing a prescribed burn, we can reduce the fuel loading and ladder fuels, thus greatly reducing the potential for urban interface fires.

Noxious weed concerns - Over the last few years, we have used various methods to control the noxious weeds in the park. These include hand pulling, goats, and some spraying. Fire is another effective way of helping to control these weeds especially in conjunction with the other methods. We currently have plots within the burn area that we have been monitoring for the effectiveness of the goats, so we will continue to use these for the prescribed burn as well.

News from © iNFOnews, 2016

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