One of three forest burns completed

One of three burns planned for the Clearwater Forest has been finished with results now being studied.

One of three burns planned for the Clearwater Forest has been finished with results now being studied.

Sustainable Resource Development, in its overall plan for prescribed burns in the forested area along the Eastern Slopes, set out to perform prescribed burns at Hat Mountain, west of Sundre as well as two other sites in the Upper Clearwater and Idlewilde areas.

However, only the Hat Mountain burn was accomplished this year, fire information officer Barry Shellian said on Friday.

Crews lit fire to 1,035 acres of old-growth forest at Hat Mountain, which is about 65 km west of Sundre and immediately north of the Yaha Tinda Ranch, located on the Red Deer River and home to the Parks Canada horse herd.

The window never opened for the burns approved at Upper Clearwater and Idlewilde this year, said Shellian.

The department needs specific atmospheric and weather conditions to achieve the desired results from a prescribed burn, meant to mimic natural events that are part of sustaining a healthy forest, he said.

Ideal conditions were briefly seen at Upper Clearwater, located north of Hat Mountain and Idlewilde, southeast of Pepper Lake.

However, forestry crews were fighting wildfires in Northern Alberta when those conditions arose and the opportunity had passed by the time they were available for prescribed burns, said Shellian.

At this point in the season, there is not enough time left in the day to get a good burn after overnight frost and humidity have dissipated, he said.

By selecting and then carefully burning small areas of the forest, the department is able to mimic nature and improve the health and diversity of the forest, he said.

The green growth that appears after an area has recovered from a burn also remain fire resistant for a number of years, he said.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

— copyright Red Deer Advocate