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Waterton Lakes National Park to conduct Y-Camp prescribed fire

Posted on 5 May 2022 by Ryan Dahlman
On May 5th, if conditions allow, Parks Canada fire managers will ignite the 1,170-hectare “Y-Camp” Prescribed Fire Unit, located south of the Chief Mountain Highway and Maskinonge wetland and east of Lower and Middle Waterton Lake. See attached map. Ignition operations may take up to two days.
Safety is always the top priority for Parks Canada in all fire management operations.
Parks Canada has established fireguards around the prescribed fire area, deployed equipment to protect infrastructure and natural and cultural resources, and procured additional personnel and equipment resources.
Why This Prescribed Fire Is Important The objective of the Y-Camp 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. In addition to improving grassland health, this prescribed fire will also help reduce the risk of wildfire for neighbours on the park boundary.
The Y-Camp prescribed fire was previously ignited in 2015 and 2008. Closures An area closure will be in place during the prescribed fire operation, which will include: Y Camp prescribed fire area (see map), which includes Wishbone Trail Maskinonge day use area and overlook Chief Mountain Highway Hay Barn road and day use area Blakiston Fan north of Blakiston Creek The portion of the Blakiston Fan closed on the day of prescribed fire operations will reopen when ignition operations are complete.
The rest of the prescribed fire area will remain closed until crews can ensure public safety. Visit Waterton Lakes’ Important Bulletins for an area closure map: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/waterton/bulletins  Smoke Prescribed fires are ignited during good smoke venting conditions. Smoke and flames will be visible from a long distance. Fire managers expect strong smoke production but minimal smoke impact while burning. Smoke may settle overnight and into the morning in the park and adjacent areas. Parks Canada staff will monitor Highways 5 and 6 and implement a temporary slow speed zone if necessary.
Motorists will be alerted that a prescribed fire is in progress and will be asked not to stop. Check http://511.alberta.ca for up to date road conditions. There is no need to call emergency services to report smoke in the area. Prescribed fire plans are peer reviewed and identify specific weather conditions and resources necessary to ensure the safety of people and property. Parks Canada has nearly 40 years of experience using fire to naturally restore ecological integrity in national parks, and has successfully implemented prescribed fires in Waterton Lakes National Park since 1989. Historically, Waterton Lakes National Park has evolved with fire on the landscape, started by lightning and Indigenous peoples. Evidence and fire records indicate these ecosystems would have burned every five to 10 years. Without fire suppression and the exclusion of Indigenous burning, much more fire would have taken place on the Waterton landscape.

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