A tree burning

Many of the forests within national parks are fire adapted. In these ecosystems, fire helps maintain forest health and biodiversity. Parks Canada uses carefully planned prescribed fire to safely restore and maintain this important ecological process.

A prescribed fire is an intentional fire planned and managed by fire specialists. A “prescription” describes the conditions and procedures necessary to burn safely and effectively.

Parks Canada’s fire specialists take into account weather, type of vegetation, moisture levels, terrain, anticipated fire behavior, risk to public and infrastructure, and more when writing a prescription. They define the boundary of the fire using natural barriers, such as cliffs and wetlands, combined with other features, such as roads and constructed fuel breaks made by people. Finally, the team outlines the conditions under which the prescription can be used. When these conditions are met, the team is ready for action.

Fire conservation work in 2018

Park staff walk along a burn line

Thousand Islands National Park is planning to conduct a third prescribed fire on Gordon Island sometime between April 15 and May 16, 2018, based on weather conditions. The fire will be approximately 5 hectares in size. In addition to red oak regeneration, many other rare plants and songbirds will benefit from the recreation of this natural process.

As Gordon Island is an early season fire, smoke direction will be influenced by the spring winds, which will most likely be blowing from the south-west, pushing the smoke north east. Depending on wind strength and other weather factors, there is a potential for some smoke from the fire to reach the mainland north-east of Gordon Island at ground level. Most smoke is expected to be confined to 500 metres around Gordon Island.

Each prescribed fire has its own smoke characteristics. Gordon Island will be an understory burn, which produces less smoke, but it can linger lower to the ground and affect local visibility.