Parks Canada plans prescribed fire in Waterton Lakes National Park

The Parks Canada fire management team are planning a prescribed fire in Waterton, Alta., on Thursday.

About 2,200 hectares in Eskerine Complex Prescribed Fire Area in Waterton Lakes National Park will be lit, Parks Canada said in a press release Thursday. The area for the prescribed fire is between Bellevue Hill, the Bison Paddock, Waterton River and Lower Waterton Lakes, and Red Rock Road.

Parks Canada plans to light 2,200 hectares in the Eskerine Complex Prescribed Fire Area in Waterton, Thursday.

Parks Canada

This prescribed fire will restore fire to the area, limit the growth of trees and shrubs intruding onto native fescue grasslands, and foster a natural restoration of the ecosystem, Parks Canada said.

Prescribed fires are done to restore the landscape and maintain the frequency of fires, while also protecting residents and towns from wildfires. Parks Canada says restoring fire is crucial to the health of the ecosystem, including its wildlife.

The prescribed fire will proceed only if specific environmental and weather conditions are met.

Parks Canada says safety is their top priority, and advises the public of the following:

Heavy smoke and flames may be visible. Smoke from the Eskerine grasslands may be visible from Highway 5 and Highway 6, or Entrance Road.Smoke may settle overnight and into the morning, and could possibly drift into neighbouring areas.A closure of the area will be in effect for safety precautions, including the Red Rock Parkway, Bison Paddock Drive, Bison Paddock Viewpoint Trail, Maskinonge Lookout and the Hay Barn Road.

The Parks Canada fire management staff consists of fire management specialists, and three helicopters to assist Waterton Lakes using aerial ignition devices.

The area was last burned in 2014.