Bulkley Valley Research Centre - Science in the Public Interest

Year 1 - Conservation & Restoration of Northern BC Grasslands

Project Reference Number: 2007-24

Project Status: Complete

Led by: Sybille Haeussler, PhD, Research Associate, UBC, Smithers

Funder: Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation

In the southeast Skeena Region, low elevation grasslands are critical habitats for many wildlife species, especially mule deer. These endangered ecosystems face cumulative threats from land development, changes in climate and disturbance regimes, invasive species and insensitive recreational use. In recent years, mild wet summers, fire suppression and changes in grazing and browsing pressure have reduced grassland area and range quality through shrub and tree encroachment.

The Bulkley Valley Research Centre proposes to develop cost-effective techniques for enhancing grassland condition, diversity and habitat value for wildlife that do not increase invasive, non-native plants. The project will test combinations of prescribed fire, cutting and girdling on six grassland monitoring sites established in 2001 between Hazelton and Francois Lake. We will compare wildlife use and changes in range quality since 2001 on untreated vs. monitoring plots at the six sites. In addition to demonstrating the benefits of these techniques for improving range condition and wildlife use, the project will raise public awareness of grassland

conservation issues and create a more favorable climate

for active grassland habitat management.



Our goal is to maintain and restore the native grassland ecosystems of the southeastern Skeena Region and enhance their value as habitat for wildlife.

Specific objectives are:


  • To find cost-effective techniques for preventing shrub and tree encroachment that enhance forage quality and diversity and do not increase non-native species invasion.
  • To monitor changes in species composition and the rate of woody species invasion on treated and untreated grasslands.
  • To monitor wildlife habitat use of treated & untreated grasslands, esp. cervids.
  • To increase public interest and involvement in conservation and restoration of grasslands and enhancement of grassland wildlife habitat on public and private lands.

Deliverables (2007/08):


  • Test plot at Hubert Hill/Toodienia (a 1998 HCTF acquisition) reburned
  • One additional prescribed burn, if approved (spring 2008)
  • Manual girdling & brush cutting test plots established at 4 remaining TERP test sites
  • Continue weeding, mulching and seeding native plants at Hubert Hill/Toodienia
  • Replace plot stakes and ribbons & remeasure monitoring transects at all six sites
  • Assess wildlife use (fecal pellets & other sign) of treated and untreated test plots.

Related Reports

Publication Date Report Title Authors
December 2015 Ecosystem Restoration and Invasive Species Control at Toodienia/Hubert Hill 2015 Report Sybille Haeussler, PhD RPF, Skeena Forestry Consultants, Smithers
November 2009 Conservation and Restoration of Northwest BC Grasslands Leanne Helkenberg and Sybille Haeussler
2009 Endangered Ecosystems Research in Parks and Protected Areas of West Central British Columbia Sybille Haeussler, Adrian de Groot, Elizabeth Murphy
2009 Effects of Grassland Restoration Treatments on Ungulate Use of Northwest BC Grasslands Sybille Haeussler and Adrian de Groot
2009 Effects of Prescribed Burning on Aspen Mortality and Vigour Sybille Haeussler and Adrian de Groot