|April 10, 2014
Division of fire oversees prescribed burn near Kicking Horse Job Corp
By Adriana Fehrs
Darrell Clairmont, Fuels Technician for CSKT Division of Fire and Burn Boss for the Kicking Horse / Ninepipes -1 Burn, stands with CSKT workers on April 3. He takes time before workers start burning to talk about safety. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
RONAN — CSKT Natural Resource Department (NRD) - Division of Fire and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services partnered together to conduct a prescribed burn by Kicking Horse Job Corp on April 3.
The 900-acre burn site encompasses 170 acres of the Water Fowl Production area, property of the National Bison Range, and a tribally owned plot of land that sits between Mollmann Pass Trail, Kicking Horse Road, and Highway 93 next to the Kicking Horse Reservoir. CSKT is calling it the KHN-1 ‘Kicking Horse / Ninepipes – 1’ Burn.
Smoke rises into the air during the Kick Horse / Ninepipes -1 Burn conducted south of Ronan on April 3. CSKT and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services joined together on the project; the tribe provided the manpower, using twenty workers for the task. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
CSKT’s goal for the prescribed fire within the pasture and wetland areas of the Kicking Horse – Ninepipes and Water Fowl Production property included conducting the fire as a means of removing noxious weeds, such as teasel, and clearing above-ground biomass in preparation for weed management. Art Soukkala, Wildlife Biologist for NRD, says, “The prescribed fire is an effort to restore native grass species in the area, if we don’t conduct these fires, there is the potential for the noxious weeds, along with snowberry and other shrubs, to take over the landscape.” CSKT NRD Division of Fire also conducted the burn to reduce hazard fuels by over fifty percent for the entire project area.
From Highway 93, south of Ronan, drivers could view the smoke coming up from the flames started by CSKT Natural Resources Department, Division of Fire workers on April 3. The prescribed fire, named KHN-1 ‘Kicking Horse / Ninepipes -1 Burn’, was conducted as a means of reducing nonnative noxious weeds on the 900 acre property by the Kicking Horse Reservoir. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
The Division of Fire provided the labor for project, using twenty workers total, with four workers from the National Bison Range. Bob Rebarchik, National Bison Range Deputy Project Leader, along with Darrell Clairmont, Fuels Technician for CSKT Division of Fire and Burn Boss for the project, Bob McCrea, SEAT Manager for CSKT Division of Fire and Firing Boss for the project, Mike Houle, Engine Boss for CSKT Division of Fire, and Lloyd Barnaby, Holding Boss for the project, oversaw the Kicking Horse / Ninepipes -1 Burn project.
CSKT Division of Fire workers spray water on the grass next to Highway 93 south of Ronan as a safety precaution to avoid their prescribed fire from jumping the road. Darrell Clairmont, Fuels Technician for CSKT Division of Fire and Burn Boss for the Kicking Horse / Ninepipes -1 Burn, led the way. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
They made their first efforts to burn the 900-acrea area on April 2, but winds prevailed and they were forced to stop for the day. They continued their project the next day, in 52-degree weather with Southwestern winds topping at ten miles per hour. C.T. Camel, Fuels Specialist for CSKT Fire Control, says “They monitored the winds in order to safely burn; CSKT Division of Fire didn’t want any risk of the burn jumping the highway, or smoke limiting visibility for drivers.”< Clairmont, Burn Boss for the project, gathered the crew before they initiated the burn. For this project, their main focus is safety. He says, “Watch your ignition, and watch your progression.” They faced some hazards during the burn such as electrical poles and electrical boxes. All crew workers donned personal protective equipment (PPE) while the torch men used a diesel-gas mixture to ignite the grass.
CSKT Natural Resource Department workers fast to ignite a buffer zone around the 900-acre pastureland/wetland near Kicking Horse Reservoir. The torch men used a diesel-gas mixture to start the grass fire, with the hopes of reducing nonnative noxious weeds in that area. The large project took a joint effort between CSKT and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
Camel says, “This is a significantly larger project, most of the prescribed burns we have done in the past have been around 100 to 170 acres. This is a big joint effort for CSKT and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services.”