Editor’s Note: Changed from print edition story to reflect a recent development for change of time for prescribed burn.
A prescribed burn near Gilpin Creek and Morrissey Creek area was tentatively scheduled to occur on the last week of April 23, but has been put off due to weather conditions.
Karlie Shaughnessy, fire information officer for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, stated that due to snow still covering parts of the area, the prescribed burn has been put off.
Planned by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations, the prescribed burn will occur over 25 hectares (55 acres) five kilometers east of Grand Forks.
The Ministry of Environment releases a venting index that calculates the production of air circulation and wind currents.
“Our biggest stumbling right now is waiting for the right venting conditions,” explained Michael White, range agrologist with the Selkirk Resource District. “We only light up if the venting index looks good.”
“Basically, that will tell us if the smoke will go up into the air and dissipate,” said White. “If we don’t have a two day window, then we can’t proceed. That’s all to do with the environmental health regulations, (such as too much smoke).”
The forests have already been thinned so there is less fuel for the fire to the burn.
“These forests used to have a turn cycle, between zero to 35 years, where a ground fire would go through,” White pointed out. “You’d lose an odd one to the canopy but the idea is to keep the fires down to the ground and not completely burn the forest down.”
The aim is to reduce the level of dead and combustible material in the grassland and open forest areas to prevent a larger catastrophic wildfire.
White advises residents to be aware of any health issues.
“We advise residents to stay indoors that day or take caution (of the smoke),” he said. “We won’t light up unless we have the right conditions. Second, the hillsides are not on fire and you’re not going to lose the town. Third this is a good news idea and we are trying to restore the ecosystem.”
After the prescribed burn near the Gilpin and Morrissey Creek area, the next prescription burn will occur above the Gilpin Grasslands Provincial Park.
“We have a prescription there already, but we probably won’t burn for a couple of years,” White noted.