Spring 2018

Newsletter Archive


Post-Kenow Fire Ecological Workshop

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In September 2017, the Kenow Wildfire moved through Waterton Lakes National Park. Half of the vegetated area of the park burned, and of that 75% was rated 'extreme severity.' On January 10th and 11th, 2018, Parks Canada hosted an ecological research, monitoring, and management workshop to inform their next steps. Miistakis was really pleased to be invited to facilitate that workshop.

Guy, Tracy and Danah went to Waterton Park (on two of the winter's coldest and snowiest days!) to take on the sheep-dogging task. What a rewarding experience. The 30 or so people gathered represented both the incredibly committed Waterton staff, as well as leading experts from across western North America. The exchange of information was extraordinary.

The workshop began with a welcome from the Superintendent (Ifan Thomas), then presentations by Park staff on Waterton's management (Dennis Madsen) and ecology (Barb Johnston), and finally on the Kenow Wildfire itself (Scott Murphy). Even people familiar with the fire were shocked by the speed and severity of this fire.

Once that context was set, participants received a wealth of information on post-fire hydrology (Uldis Silins, University of Alberta), post-fire ecology of forests (David Hibbs, Earthwatch Institute, Oregon), post-fire ecology of grasslands (Barry Adams), and post-fire implications for wildlife (Evelyn Merrill, University of Alberta). All speakers were very deft at driving these huge topics toward the specific information needs of Waterton Lakes National Park.

The gathered brains were then put through exercises to help determine what should be the priority monitoring tasks and research questions, management implications, and who might help the Park.

The easy part was facilitating the workshop - the hard part is now in the hands of Waterton Lakes National Park staff, as they work to use this information to guide their research and management efforts for a much-changed Park.

Our thanks in particular go to Kim Pearson, Ecosystem Scientist at Waterton Lakes National Park, for organizing the workshop and extending an invitation to us!