Prescribed Fires in Waterton Lakes National Park Cancelled
Updated: May 11, 2013.
Parks Canada will not be carrying out prescribed fires in the “Y-Camp” or other burn units in Waterton Lakes National Park this spring.
Parks Canada’s primary concern is the safety of people and protection of facilities. This afternoon, an Incident Command Team made the decision to cancel, based on forecasted high winds in the next few days. These fires are carried out by trained specialists when a set of predetermined conditions is met relating to weather, terrain, fire behaviour, fire control and smoke management.
The preparations that were made, including a fire line along the south boundary, can be used when the prescribed fire does proceed in future years. A review of the operation will include recommendations for other prescribed fire plans.
The area closure that was put in place for this Burn Unit is lifted.
Parks Canada has 30 years of experience reintroducing fires in national parks through well-planned prescribed fires that help sustain fire-dependent ecosystems.
The specific purpose of the fires planned this spring in Waterton Lakes National Park is to restore native prairie by reducing aspen and evergreen tree expansion onto grasslands. The overall goal of fire management in national parks is to restore and maintain healthy ecosystems, including the wildlife it supports, while protecting the public and facilities from wildfires.
Scientists and volunteers continued their research to find out what species of bats live in the park. Their objective is to inventory the bats in advance of the arrival of a deadly fungal disease called White Nose Syndrome. This disease is killing bats in catastrophic numbers in the east, and is moving westward across North America.
Counting Bats © Parks Canada
In 2011, scientists recorded 7 species of bats in the park, including two new species – eastern red bat and hoary bat. This was the first evidence that eastern red bats reside in southwest Alberta in summer.
Another discovery was that a significant north-south migration route for tree-roosting bats runs through the park.
This research is the starting point for long-term monitoring of bats within the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
Trout in Alpine Lakes
For many years in the past, most park waters were stocked with trout, including high mountain lakes that were fishless. Now, scientists are taking a look at the impacts of those trout on the native life that inhabited those lakes. Researchers are collecting fish and plankton, analyzing sediment cores, and comparing fish and fishless lakes. Results will provide information for potential restoration actions by Parks Canada.
Falls Theatre Native Plant Garden
Parks Canada has created a second native plant garden in the community of Waterton. This garden is planted with native species available in many local nurseries. It will promote water conservation and demonstrate the beauty of native plants. It will also help us learn more about challenges such as dealing with hungry deer and how to best establish different native plants.