Gateway Gazette

Successful Prescribed Fire in Waterton “Y-Camp” Burn Unit

What’s Happening?

April 21: widening the fire guard along the Chief Mountain Highway
April 21: widening the fire guard along the Chief Mountain Highway

Over the past two days, fire managers safely completed a highly successful prescribed fire in the Y-Camp burn unit in Waterton Lakes National Park. On April 21, ground and aerial ignition teams created a larger fire guard along the Chief Mountain Highway. Yesterday, the rest of the main prescribed fire unit was burned using the same techniques. Crews were able to restore fire to the entire 1200 hectare burn unit.

Why It’s Important:

All objectives of the prescribed fire were met. The purpose of this prescribed fire is to restore native prairie by reducing aspen and evergreen tree expansion onto grasslands. Historic photographs show that fire suppression has allowed trees to encroach on park grasslands, with as much as 30% of grasslands lost over the last 100 years. The Y-Camp unit was previously burned in 2008.

Parks Canada is a world leader in the use of fire as a method of restoring a natural process to the landscape, supporting ecosystem biodiversity and health. Restoring fire in a controlled way is important to the health of Waterton’s ecosystem, this program is designed to reduce wildfire risk and improve park ecosystems.

Smoke

April 22: Main burn unit ignited
April 22: Main burn unit ignited

Although there was significant smoke throughout the afternoon, winds dissipated most of it after the ignition operation ceased. Smoke was greatly reduced with cooler evening temperatures. No further ignition is planned, so there should be minimal further smoke.

Restrictions and Closures

Temporary area closures will remain in place until all fire operations are complete:

  • The area between Chief Mountain Highway and where the Lower Waterton Lake meets the Dardanelles, including the Maskinonge overlook and Maskinonge picnic site; and from the Park Gate to Marquis Hole, including Wishbone trail.
  • The Chief Mountain Highway

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