Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks (MRGNP) have instituted an ecological integrity monitoring program to measure ecosystem function (disturbances, vegetation age class distribution) and stressors (habitat fragmentation, land use patterns). An MSc student from the University of Calgary, Geography Department is addressing fragmentation of Mountain Caribou habitat through patch development using a combination of forest cover database, MSS and TM LANDSAT imagery. The project is to provide baseline data on disturbance patterns within the study area, the northwestern Columbia Mountains including MRGNP, and study change over time; looking at pre-1960, 1979, and 1997.
Habitat is defined as highly diverse forest structure, which is primarily a function of old age. This is being measured through the tassel cap method and will be tested through correlation with radio telemetry data from the Mountain Caribou research program. Fragmentation includes both forest clearcuts and natural fragmentation by fires and avalanches. Results will provide a spatial representation of connectivity for old growth forest dependent species and critical areas for protection through the regional land use planning process.
Fire management in Glacier National Park is based on management zones of no suppression and full suppression. The decision to not suppress a forest fire is based on expected fire behaviour, values at risk, and other variables. Fire behaviour modelling requires an understanding of the fuels involved and within the expected fire spread area. Currently the Canadian Forest Fire Behaviour Prediction System (CFFBPS) does not contain fuel types that are found in the Columbia Mountains.
This project is using the Ecological Land Classification and field sampling. Major vegetation classes were identified, then sampled using the fuel descriptors from the CFFBPS. The resulting spatial fuel map will be tested and modified using historical data from several large fires. The resulting fuel map will help park managers modify existing fire management zones and conduct risk management.
Fire management in MRGNP is based on re-establishing the natural fire regime by allowing, or simulating, the expected fire cycle. Maintenance of a natural fire regime to promote ecological integrity requires decision makers to balance fire control for protection of the public and resources, with allowing fires to burn. A contractor has developed a spatial fire cycle model based on landscape, stand age values, time, etc., that will provide a key database for developing fire management decisions. In addition, past fire burn patterns can be analysed to identify high risk areas.
The results will support science based fire management as identified in the vegetation Management Principals of the Vegetation Management Strategy - Mountain Parks (VMS). In addition it provides commonality in database in the mountain national parks as directed by the Vegetation Management Operational Guidelines in the VMS; and contributes to development of fire management goals for Mount Revelstoke National Park that will allow for less than full suppression of wildfire.
For further information on these projects contact Gregg Walker, Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks, email@example.com
Columbia Mountains Institute of Applied Ecology
Box 2568 Revelstoke, B.C. V0E 2S0
Tel: 250-837-9311 Fax: 250-837-9311