Valley residents living near Columbia Lake may see some smoke in the coming days, as the Nature Conservancy of Canada carries out ecosystem restoration work on Lot 48.
Lot 48 is an ecologically significant tract of land on the east side of Columbia Lake, owned and managed by the conservancy, and the organization will be thinning trees there for the first few weeks of December and burning the resulting slash, likely in the middle of the month.
Basically some thinning crews will be going through and cutting small-diametre thickets of Douglas Fir to open up the forest a bit, said local Nature Conservancy stewardship co-ordinator Richard Klafki. Its a tool to restore the forest habitat and wildlife habitat to an open forest mosaic with grassland in between.
According to Mr. Klafki, more open habitat will benefit a host of grassland plant and animal species typically found in the area, including bighorn sheep, Lewiss Woodpeckers and badgers (the latter have been endangered in B.C. for decades). It will also help reduce disease and insect outbreaks on Lot 48 and, by thinning dense understory, will reduce the risk of wildfires there.
So Lot 48, with its more open grassland, could act as a buffer if a large wildfire were to break out on the east side of Columbia Lake, said Mr. Klafki.
The slash will be burnt in a sloop burner a high-efficiency cauldron-like burner that acts like a big blower by blowing extra air into the fire, making the burning temperature higher and consequently reducing the amount of smoke. The cauldron-like set-up of the burner also minimizes soil disturbance.
There is a high potential for archeological sites on Lot 48, so its important to protect the ground as much as possible, said Mr. Klafki. Thats why were doing this in the freezing month of December.
The Nature Conservancy will be hosting a winter celebration at its Marion Creek site on the west side of Columbia Lake opposite from Lot 48 on Sunday, December 14th. In the past, it has been a Christmas tree cutting event. People are still welcome to go and cut a tree, but this year the focus will be on having winter fun, with a bonfire, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice-skating and a free barbecue.