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Waterton Lakes National Park to conduct prescribed fire

If conditions allow Thursday, May 5, Parks Canada fire managers will ignite the 1,170-hectare “Y-Camp” prescribed fire unit south of the Chief Mountain Highway and Maskinonge wetland and east of Lower and Middle Waterton Lake.

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.

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 per cent 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.

An area closure will be in place during the prescribed fire operation, which will include:

• Y Camp prescribed fire area which includes Wishbone Trail; Maskinonge day use area and overlook; Chief Mountain Highway; Hay Barn road and day use area and 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.

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 for up to date road conditions.