An aerial shot of the Brewery Ridge prescribed burn two months ago.

An aerial shot of the Brewery Ridge prescribed burn two months ago.

Brewery burn stirs up new brush for sheep, elk

The foothill visible between Fort Steele and Fisher Peak, is flush with new shrub growth two months after its prescribed burn treatment.

  • Jul. 4, 2014 4:00 p.m.

Trish Barnes/For the Townsman

Brewery Ridge, the foothill visible between Fort Steele and Fisher Peak, is flush with new shrub growth two months after its prescribed burn treatment.

Randy Harris, Trench ER Program team leader, visited the site to measure plant growth and soil conditions and the results are good.

“The burn met our objectives,” Harris said. “We’ve had a massive re-sprouting of shrubs, which is what we were aiming for.

“We’ve also had an occurrence of two new shrubs we’ve never seen on site. All are high-value for mule deer, bighorn sheep and elk.”

The ridge, just north of the two-kilometre mark on Wildhorse River Forest Service Road, is key habitat for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep—the Wildhorse herd, which has been dwindling since a population die-off in 1981. It’s part of a larger area of traditional winter range for sheep.

Steps were taken to reintroduce the bighorns to the area over the years.

“By 1990, the Wildhorse bighorn population had regained to pre-die-off levels,” said Larry Ingham, Project Biologist delivering the work on behalf of the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP).

But populations started to dwindle again. The ridge—historically grassy and shrubby—had become ingrown with trees, which reduced its ability to support ungulates like elk, deer, sheep and cattle.

In 2000, the FWCP commissioned a sheep inventory study of the larger area. In 2005, they released a restoration plan. In 2006, they started to implement that plan.

“Brewery Ridge is our eighth project site,” Ingham said. “There are still some more on the books.”

Brewery and its twin site, Lakit Ridge, are key habitat areas. The Trench ER Program, with funding from FWCP, started to treat these areas in earnest in 2011.

Treatments included machine mastication (shredding ingrown trees and leaving the debris on site to break down and be burnt later), hand slashing, fire guard construction, archeological assessment, mapping, and prescribed burning.

The current project is to connect the two ridges with a sheep corridor, a 100-metre wide clearing running 900 metres between the two ridges. Ingham explained the corridor is being hand-slashed by local crews and will run in a straight line up and down the rocky hillsides.

“Bighorns prefer straight, open sightlines,” Ingham said. “We will be removing the lower branches of the larger trees we leave in the corridor to allow for that.”

Total FWCP funding to date at Brewery and Lakit ridges has been $138,000.

Harris is pleased with the results of the treatments and the burn.

“The ridge is already providing improved grazing and habitat for our ungulates,” Harris said.

“I saw a mother elk and her new calf on site on the day I went out to measure results.”

The Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration Program would like to thank the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program for its commitment to these sites and the in-kind contribution of labour and expertise from the Wildfire Management Branch.

“We’d like to thank all of our partners for their expertise and contributions,” Harris said. “Brewery Ridge is a great example of the benefits of co-operation and ecosystem restoration.”

Just Posted

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Ryan McKenzie of the Kimberley Trails Society made an in-depth presentation to City Council describing the initial steps of the Electrify the Mountains eBike trails project. This is a look at the project one map.
Kimberley City Council hears details on Electrify the Mountain project

At the meeting of City Council on Tuesday, June 8 Ryan McKenzie… Continue reading

The Kimberley Public Library invites kids of all ages to join the 2021 BC Summer Reading Club. Kimberley Public Library file
Kimberley kids invited to join summer reading club at Public Library

The Kimberley Public Library invites kids of all ages to join the… Continue reading

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

Expert says it’s important to verify you really are dealing with the CRA before you give out any info

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Fraser Valley drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversary, March 31, 2020. Social visits have been allowed since COVID-19 vaccination has been offered in all care homes. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)
B.C. prepares mandatory vaccination for senior care homes

180 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Friday, one more death

Lorraine Gibson, 90, received a COVID-19 immunization at the South Surrey Park and Ride vaccination clinic. (File photo: Aaron Hinks)
Surrey has had 25% of B.C.’s total COVID-19 cases

Surrey recorded 4,012 cases in May

Most Read