La Ronge Wildfire
We are excited to have partnered with the Government of Saskatchewan on a project to reforest areas of La Ronge, one of the Northernmost cities in Saskatchewan and one of the hardest hit areas by the fire.
In June 2015, a devastating wildfire ravaged the town of La Ronge, Saskatchewan, and forced 13,000 people to evacuate their homes. The goal of this planting project is to identify and execute on the best silvicultural methodology and process for regenerating the burned forests in the Nemeiben Lake and Wadin Bay campgrounds of Lac La Ronge Provincial Park.
Total Trees Planted
The Nemeiben Lake and Wadin Bay campgrounds within Lac La Ronge Provincial Park were ravaged in the wildfires of June, 2015. Through either crown and ground fire, or just sheer ground fire, over three quarters of the forest covers of both campgrounds were burnt. Most of the trees in the burned areas were destroyed and have to be removed for safety and aesthetic reasons. The forest renewal operations at Wadin Bay began, in limited capacity, in September 2015, and made way for electrification through the fall season. To protect soil and ecosystem integrity, the bulk of the harvest operations at Wadin Bay campground occurred in winter 2015 and 2016. All of the operations at Nemeiben Lake campground started and continued through the winter of 2015 and 2016.
The project is a co-operative effort among tentree, the Landscape Protection Unit, Facilities Branch, and LLPP Parks Operations of Parks Division, Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport and the Ministry of Environment Compliance Services Branch and Forest Services Branch. No harvesting occurred near water or in riparian zones and therefore no involvement of agencies administering those areas were required.
Assess the Damage
Over 80% of the Nemeiben Lake Campground had been burned by a combination of crown and ground fire while some areas were burnt by ground fire alone.
Allow for Proper Natural Regeneration
The burn was so intense, it caused cone openings on both black spruce and jack pine. The seeds from these species rained down on the forest floors long after the fires ceased. The burning was severe enough to expose mineral soils in most areas and a good seed bed is currently in place for the germination and establishment of the conifers.
Remove Damaged and Burnt Trees
All burned trees, whether crown burned, or simply root-burned, must be removed from within a zone that is one average tree length (25m) of all park infrastructure. All areas further than 25m from camping sites, roads, trails, and buildings, are left to regenerate naturally and do not require harvest or supplemental planting. Our trees are planted within a 25m radius from the campsites.
Restore land affected by forest fires. The wildfires that devastated these campgrounds burned so hot that natural regeneration was not possible without human interference.
Restore public space that was once popular for hiking and camping, and allow locals and tourists to safely enjoy the outdoors.
Educate locals on the best practices and bring awareness to responsible camping and fire prevention
We reforest the park with native species supplied by a local nursery. These seedlings are all between 2-3 years old—these seedlings are older than usual because they are chosen to get the trees back to size within a shorter time frame. These trees will grow and surround campsites once again.
Black spruce trees are susceptible to fires of any severity. This particular species regenerates from the seeds dispersed from open cones following a fire. The seeds are usually spread from the cones of trees that had been killed on-site by fires. Generally, the establishment period (the time it takes for a tree to regenerate enough roots to stay alive without irrigation) is 5 years following a fire. These trees are crucial to the surrounding grounds as a wide variety of wildlife rely on the Black spruce for protection and food.
Remove Dead Trees at Risk of Falling
While wildfire is inevitable in boreal forest parks, our main challenge is to remove the trees killed by fires (that can fall and endanger the public) without further damaging the site.
Identify Trees to Plant
The grounds at Nemeiben Lake is best suited for Black spruce and jackpine. This is a relatively dry and nutrient poor site with low herb and shrub species diversity. Because of the shallow till soils over bedrock, the site is fairly fragile and requires diligent care to prevent soil erosion or compaction. We also plant a small number of Trembling aspen, white birch, and green alder.
Plant Trees in Designated Areas
Once the at-risk trees had been removed, the land was ready to be reforested. We chose seedlings that are 2-3 years old in order to improve survivability and to speed up the rejuvenation and get the park back to its original splendor.
Saskatchewan Provincial Parks
Tourism Saskatchewan, SaskParks are responsible for marketing, management and upkeep of all Saskatchewan Provincial Parks.