Bulkley Valley Research Centre - Science in the Public Interest

Prescribed burning of logging slash for ecological restoration of edible berries and grizzly bear forage near Mt. Horetzky

Project Reference Number: 2015-20

Project Status: Complete

Led by: Sybille Haeussler, PhD RPF, Skeena Forestry Consultants, Smithers

Project team: Julia Kobetitch BSc, BVRC field assistant; Erica Lilles, MSc PAg, FLNRO research scientist; Ivan West, Fort Babine natural resource technician; Sonny West, Fort Babine natural resource Technician; Grant MacHutchon, MSc RPBio, bear biologist. This is a collaborative project with West Fraser (PIR), Lake Babine First Nation, BC Wildfire Service and SERNbc.

Funder: SERNbc

Pre-burn monitoring of slash loads and grizzly bear forage near Mt. Horetzky with Lake Babine First Nation participants

The project involved pre-burn monitoring of fuels, grizzly bear forage and berries on a proposed slashburn at CP633-1 near Mt. Horetzky in the Nilkitkwa Valley north of Babine Lake.  This is a collaborative initiative between West Fraser (PIR), Lake Babine First Nation, BC Wildfire Service and SERNbc.  BVRC was contracted to carry out scientific monitoring to determine whether prescribed burning of logging slash will meet the objectives of enhancing production of grizzly bear forage and edible wild berries.  The project also provided an opportunity for sharing traditional knowledge regarding prescribed fire for wildlife and berry management and  for training local First Nations participants in the execution, mop-up and monitoring of a slashburn.  Due to unfavorable weather, the burn was deferred to 2016, but pre-burn monitoring was completed as scheduled. 

Overall Project Objectives:

The objective of this project is to assess the role and value of broadcast burning for stimulating berry growth and consequently providing Grizzly Bear habitat. The expectation of the project is that broadcast burning of a cutblock (CP633-1) after harvest will help to stimulate berry growth and work towards restoring the ecosystem that was impacted by logging activities.

Project Specific Objectives:

1.     Conduct pre- and post-burn research and environmental monitoring, taking into account traditional ecological knowledge and use information provided by local First Nations knowledge keepers. (Traditional use research as well as environmental)

2.     Establish, develop, and maintain collaborative relationships between licensees, First Nations, Government, and researchers.

3.     Assist in the training of local First Nations participants to provide pre- and post-burn environmental monitoring and to establish a foundation of trained participants.

4.     Fuel and resource management; reduction of fire hazards and risk.

5.     Identify and record benefits of broadcast burning that will assist in; developing  a template for future broadcast burns in the area.

Proposed Methods to Meet these Objectives:

1.     Examine aerial photographs and silvicultural site plan for CP633-1 to stratify the cutblock in terms of BEC Site Series, distribution of existing plant communities (berry patches, herbaceous vegetation, alder thickets, tree retention), distribution of fuels, roads, watercourses, terrain in relation to control areas and anticipated burn severity.

2.     Consult with other project participants to refine expectations for (1) burn distribution and burn severity; (2) goals for and participation in habitat enhancement and monitoring.

3.     Consult with grizzly bear specialist(s) to refine plan for grizzly habitat enhancement monitoring.

4.     Preliminary plot layout and number of replicates in relation to plant communities and expected burn severity (including unburned control area).

5.     Field visit and pre-burn plot layout and data collection.

6.     Immediate post-burn data collection.

Prescribed fire monitoring of fuels and vegetation will be adapted from Trowbridge et al. (1987) and Rooke et al. (2015).  Grizzly bear habitat monitoring will be overlain onto the fuel and vegetation plots as recommended by the grizzly bear specialist and local knowledge keepers. Preliminary methodology will be adapted in the field after consultation with local First Nations, grizzly bear specialists, inspection of site maps and site plans, after pre-burn field work and again after post-burn fieldwork.  The intent is to include a replicated set of burn monitoring plots across the range of site series/plant communities and burn severity available on the block and in an adjacent unburned control.  Burn severity can’t be known for sure until after the fire, but we need to include an unburned control and to establish pre-burn plots in areas likely to differ in severity (based on terrain, and fuel loading etc.) so as to quantify fuel consumption.

Rooke, S., B. Pate and R. S. McNay. 2015. A prescribed burning monitoring protocol for the Omineca Region, British Columbia. Wildlife Infometrics Report No. 494. Wildlife Infometrics Inc.. Mackenzie, BC. 29 p.

Trowbridge, R., B. Hawkes, A. Macadam and J. Parminter. 1989. A handbook for prescribed fire assessments in British Columbia: Logging slash fuels. Canada-BC Economic & Regional Development Agreement, FRDA Handbook 001. 63 p. https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hfd/pubs/Docs/Frh/Frh001.htm [accessed Nov. 28, 2015].

Related Reports

Publication Date Report Title Authors
December 2015 Prescribed burning of logging slash for ecological restoration of edible berries and grizzly bear forage near Mt. Horetzky Sybille Haeussler, PhD RPF, Skeena Forestry Consultants, Smithers