The project area, located southwest of Jaffray, BC, occupies 1880 hectares of Crown land, more or less, in that portion of the Waldo Range Unit tenured to the Bar X Ranch (Edwards family) and encompassing the following pastures:
Plus portions of Elmer’s and Vimy Ridge
The Rocky Mountain Trench Natural Resources Society (Trench Society) was established to provide a vehicle for public stakeholder organizations to pursue ecosystem-based restoration on the dry forests and grasslands on Crown land in the Rocky Mountain Trench of southeastern British Columbia (the East Kootenay).
The need for such restoration is driven by the enormous loss of grasslands resulting from 60 years of unmanaged forest ingrowth and encroachment. The Trench in southeastern BC was historically a fire-maintained ecosystem. The fire cycles that maintained the region’s grasslands have been absent for over a century. The Society’s primary task is facilitating the restoration of these lightly forested grasslands, commonly called rangelands, on Crown land in the Trench.
This means restoring the ecosystem attributes that support the recovery of grassland ecosystem structure and function.
The Society’s work is driven by the need reflected in these factors:
(1) Grasslands are British Columbia’s most at-risk ecosystems. They comprise less than 1% of the province’s land area but provide habitat for about one-third of its endangered plants and animals.
(2) Three notable examples from the local grassland species perspective: the sharptail grouse has been extirpated and the yellow badger and bighorn sheep are considered at risk in the Trench.
(3) The two locally dominant grassland users, elk and cattle, contribute significantly to the social and economic fabric of the Trench and thus figure prominently in the need for restoration and management of grasslands in the Trench.
(4) The environmental, social and economic issues resulting from the deterioration of grasslands in the Trench have reached crisis proportions. There is a pressing need to enhance the scope and effectiveness of the existing restoration program. With the Waldo North project, the Trench Society hopes to demonstrate a model for enhanced restoration.
An ecosystem restoration plan for the Waldo North project area was ratified by stakeholders in October 2000. Furthermore, the Waldo North project is consistent with the East Kootenay Restoration Program as outlined in “A Blueprint for Action” (Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration Steering Committee, 2000), the Kootenay-Boundary Land Use Plan (1995) and Implementation Strategy (1997), and the final report recommendations of the East Kootenay Trench Agriculture/Wildlife Committee (1998).
The approach to planning and implementing this project will follow the ecosystem restoration approach established by the US Forest Service in the Pacific Northwest: (quoted in A Strategic Ecological Restoration Assessment (SERA) in the Forest Regions of British Columbia: Holt, 2001). This approach begins by:
“Determining all ecosystem restoration needs, then sifting these for the most important processes of concern, ‘treatability,’ cost effectiveness, funding expectations, management situations, and institutional and socio-political considerations to arrive at the best implementable program.”
The project cornerstone -- or “most important process of concern” -- is to re-establish a fire-maintained management regime on the site. Successful prescribed fire management is dependent on fine fuel. Historically, this was grass. Therefore, the outcome most critical to success is creation of a stand structure appropriate for optimum enhancement of the grassland plant community.
Data from the Miller Road Restoration Treatments and Monitoring Project at Ta Ta Creek, BC (2000) showed that planned removal of forest canopy is effective for restoring herbaceous and shrub vegetation and ecological processes.
1. Generate and produce all planning components as required by the BC Forest and Range Practices Act, and the unique requirements of the project, that will lead to an “Occupant Licence to Cut” (temporary timber harvesting licence) being issued to the Trench Society for the project area.
2. Test the assumption that better, faster, cheaper grassland restoration can be realized by an integrated, full-phase, revenue-generating project on a large area.
3. Demonstrate a more effective restoration project model for the East Kootenay Restoration Program.
4. Create ecosystem attributes that will lead to effective restoration of the site’s ability to generate fine fuel, restoration of the historic fire cycle, and a sustainably managed grassland resource.
5. Utilize and market, to the maximum extent possible, all harvested material as sawlogs, peelers, chips or hog fuel.
6. Utilize all revenue in excess of expenses for restoration operations.
· The important short-term measurements that will be used to evaluate this project are: (1) change in percentage of conifer overstory resulting from harvest (2) small woody debris residue (3) ground disturbance.
· Monitoring for restoration objectives will follow established procedures from similar projects in the Trench.
· The option of monitoring understory vegetation over the long term will be established as part of the monitoring protocol.
· FERIC (Forest Engineering and Research Institute of Canada) has been approached to collect and assess cost and production data
Planned Start: Fall 2005
Planned Completion: Spring 2007