Kvass Flats Prescribed Burn Habitat Enhancement Project Post-burn Report 2001


Emily Lemieux and Sheldon Kowalchuk


Kvass Flats is an important ungulate winter range located on the north side of the Smoky River
valley, approximately 10 kilometres west of Grande Cache, Alberta. In order to improve wildlife
habitat, prescribed burns were conducted on a portion of Kvass Flats in 1987 and again in 1994.
Efforts in 2001 were targeted at enhancing the wildlife habitat at the previous burn sites as well as
reducing the fuel loads along the north side of the Smoky River valley, which would act as a fire
break in future years if wildfires develop west of Kvass Flats in the Willmore Wilderness Park.

The objective of the 2001 Kvass Flats prescribed burn was to burn approximately 4,200 acres of
mature aspen forest, grasslands, and coniferous forest located between Corral Creek and Eaton
Creek. A remote automated weather station (RAWS) was installed at Kvass Flats on April 5, 2001
to help monitor the weather in the burn area. In order to secure the eastern end of the burn site, a
fireguard was established between Davey and Eaton Creeks on April 27, 2001. Pre-burn
vegetation sampling and pellet count surveys were conducted on May 10 and 11, 2001, and the
main burn was ignited using a helitorch on May 12, 2001. Fuel conditions were not ideal on the
day of the burn, giving mixed results due to large areas that did not burn effectively.

A post-burn assessment was conducted at the burn site on June 20, 2001 to visually assess the
success of the burn. A more detailed assessment of the burn site was not completed due to the
large areas that did not burn effectively - likely only 15% of the site burned as expected.
Transects that were assessed prior to the burn were inspected during the post-burn assessment
to determine if the areas had burned properly. Through these observations it was concluded that
although the transects located in the grassland areas burned well, transects located in forested
areas were unsuccessful, burning partially or not at all. As a result of the large forested areas that
did not burn effectively, fuels were not reduced enough to create a firebreak in the Kvass Flats

Due to the lack of success of the 2001 Kvass Flats prescribed burn it is recommended that this
burn be conducted again in 2002, weather permitting.

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