Mimicking nature

Prescribed burns to help restore Cariboo grasslands

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) is planning a series of ecosystem restoration burns west and south of Williams Lake between April 3 and mid-May 2014, weather conditions permitting.

These prescribed burns are managed under the Ecosystem Restoration Program within the MFLNRO’s Range Branch and will be conducted with the assistance of staff from the Wildfire Management Branch’s Cariboo Fire Centre.

Sites within the following areas will be treated to help restore native grassland ecosystems:

• Beecher’s Prairie (Highway 20 at the Toosey turnoff), approximately 80 hectares;

• Bald Mountain (south of Riske Creek), approximately 120 ha;

• Deer Creek (Alexis Creek area), approximately 100 ha;

• Crow’s Bar (Fraser River area south of Dog Creek), approximately 1,750 ha; and

• Ward Creek (Fraser River area north of Gang Ranch), approximately 400 ha.

These ecosystem restoration burns were originally scheduled to take place in fall 2013, but they were not completed due to unsuitable burning conditions at the time.

Historically, grasslands in the Cariboo-Chilcotin were renewed through frequent, low-intensity ground fires. Such fires prevented tree encroachment, rejuvenated understory plants and maintained more open grasslands and forests with large trees.

The reintroduction of managed, low-intensity ground fires to these grasslands is intended to restore and maintain the traditional grassland plant communities that are native to these areas.

These 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.