February 6th, 2022
A new and very important report has just been released by the government of BC “Prescribed Fire and Invasive Plants A Reference Guide and Manual of Best Practices” written by the Invasive Plant Program of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (MFLNRORD) Province of BC and issued in January 2022. This draft has been in circulation for a while and has been reviewed by the provincial Ecosystem Restoration program, in fact the cover photo is from the 2018 ?aq’am and Indian Springs North prescribed burn.
This report has been placed on our website (Maps | Rocky Mountain Trench Society (trench-er.com) under the Current plan tab on our website as Planning documents - Google Drive
In the actual library it can be found under the invasive plants folder or by the link https://drive.google.com/file/d/1eVg2z9Xs1E96b8D8vaqIKc8PYmEOlzqn/view?usp=sharing
The upshot of the document is to manage for invasive plants in all four stages of a prescribed burn project. For the pat five years the Rocky Mountain Trench Natural Resources Society (Trench Society) has had an invasive plant management strategy and it complements this document well. Trench Society operational actions are highlighted below
1. At the planning stage understand the invasive plants on site and plan for them in the prescription.
a. The Trench Society hires the East Kootenay Invasive Species Council EKISC) to inventory a project area prior to tree thinning or prescribed burn projects commence. EKISC recommends treatment of the invasive plants, and these recommendations are incorporated into an annual invasive plant workplan.
b. EKISC is contracted to continue working with the Trench Society to meet an annual invasive plant workplan with treatment or monitoring.
2. Do not introduce weeds during operations.
a. Machines operating on thinning operations are to be weed free before coming on site.
b. Exposed mineral soil is grass seeded within one growing season of exposure
3. Development of a prescribed burn plan
a. The inventory and recommendations from EKISC are incorporated into an annual invasive plant workplan.
4. Post treatment monitoring
a. As noted, EKISC will monitor and treat the prescribed burn as per the annual invasive plant workplan. Reports are made by EKISC to Trench Society each year.
b. Within six weeks of the prescribed burn the burn area should be surveyed by an experienced forest professional who assesses the tree count, burn impacts and need for grass seeding exposed soil. Note that in 27 prescribed burns from 2006 to 2021 usually only 60 to 70% of the prescribed burn area is actually burnt and the impact is a light scorch. Exposed soil or ash cover (the conditions needed for invasive plant establishment) is typically 1 to 5% of plot areas.
The report does contain details and the ecology and response of common invasive plants to fire. Curiously it does recommend prescribed burns as a control measure for blueweed (Echium vulgare) and cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) but under tight conditions with exacting follow up. Other common local invasive plants such as leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula), St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum L), Sulphur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta), Yellow Hawkweed species (Hieracium spp.), Dalmation toadflax (Linaria genistifolia subsp. Dalmatica), and common toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) can all be top killed by prescribed burns, but the roots of all species are too deep or widespread to be completely killed by fire. A hot burn with a lot of exposed mineral soil can likely spread the weeds.
The public is invited to contact the Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration Program, as noted below, to discuss the use of fire as a management tool and other aspects of the ecosystem restoration program. Please Contact
Marc Trudeau, Coordinator
Rocky Mountain Trench
Ecosystem Restoration Program