Burns Lake Community Forest (BLCF) completed it’s first ever prescribed fire activity since the inception of the community forest pilot project being issued back in the 90’s.
“This is a milestone step in forest management, ecosystem rejuvenation, and putting good fire back into an ecosystem that desperately needs fire to rejuvenate and regrow.”
– General Manager Frank Varga RPF
A ‘prescribed’ fire is different from a ‘wildfire’ in that it takes a team of professionals and experts; fire specialists, fire fighters, forest professionals and statutory decisions makers to support and bring to fruition. This team sets management objectives and desired outcomes through detailed planning for all aspects of a prescribed burn; site preparation, ignition, mop -up, and post- ecological studies. The most important part and differentiation is that prescribed fire is only implemented under specific weather conditions that are closely monitored leading up to the day of ignition and throughout the entire burning process. In comparison wildfire usually happens under the most extreme weather conditions, where there is generally limited to no opportunity for pre-planning. In this case fire specialists working on a wildfire are generally in a reactive mode to control and manage the fires direction. They work hard at prioritizing objectives with resources and environmental conditions they are dealt. With a prescribed burn we can better plan and control the outcomes for a fire in a certain area.
“Conditions were perfect to implement this prescribed fire successfully and safely as per the burn plan developed in the last 3 years”
– Dr Sonja Leverkus PhD, RPBio, RPF Pag EP.
In the last 75- 80 years fire has been successfully removed from our forests, in so valuable fire needed to continue the growth of an ecologically healthy forest has been removed. Left naturally our forests would regenerate with the help of fire every 120- 140 years. First Nations saw the natural benefits of fire and often applied fire to the landscape to promote and support their hunting and gathering of critical food supplies and medicines.
The success of removing fire from our forested landscapes coupled with other impacts; the mountain pine beetle epidemic and forests surrounding communities being in static states because of societal pressures like visual objectives, has resulted in a landscape highly susceptible to large scale wildfire. If we do not strategically apply fire to the landscape and manage the extent of the fuel loading in and around our communities, our ability to effectively manage future wildfires may be met with catastrophic impacts to our infrastructure and our communities.
We acknowledge that our activities may have caused some concern and may have triggered for some, unintended emotional impacts, due to our exposure to the impacts of wildfire in and around our communities in the past few years.
Mop-up and patrol of the prescribed fire continued throughout the weekend following ignition. Post-fire effects will be monitored into the future through research opportunities examining the ecological benefits that fire generates. This will help us learn more about fuel management and fire intensities in our forest around our communities. This learning will contribute to our future management activities to better reflect fire in the landscape.
This collaborative effort was made possible by the leadership of the Burns Lake Community Forest in partnership with BC Wildfire Service, the Burns Lake Ministry of Forest, Shifting Mosaics Consulting, Northern Fire WoRx and a team of local contractors; Tahtsa Timber Ltd., Gary Phillips Trucking and Peace Creek Contracting. BLCF ensured that the prescribed fire implementation was also supported by an arial team, led by Qwest Helicopters with over 40 plus years of experience applying good fire to the land and supporting fire suppression activities in the province of B.C
We would also like to thank the public for their support and understanding during this project, we are very proud to have completed our first prescribed burn at Burns Lake Community Forest.
“Under prescribed conditions, it’s never too late to bring fire back to our land.”
– General Manager, Frank Varga RPF