Ministry of Labour and Citizens' Services

Wildfire Response and Recovery

Evaluation of impacts of the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire on hydrological processes, water quality and aquatic habitat

Adam Wei

Dr. Adam Wei has expertise in forest hydrology, GIS and watershed management through his research experience in China, Australia and Canada. Dr. Wei currently holds an Endowed Research Chair in Watershed Management at the Okanagan University College (OUC)/University of British Columbia (Okanagan).

Jeff Curtis

Dr. Jeff Curtis is a biogeochemist and limnologist with interests in environmental controls on water quality. He has conducted research on dependencies among water quality, hydrology, climate, and ecosystem structure and function in lakes, wetlands, streams and rivers, and groundwater from the Precambrian Shield, western Great Plains and interior of British Columbia

Presentation Summary: Forest wildfire and its management become an important emerging issue in the BC interior. Because of significance of water resource and frequent forest fires in the Okanagan valley, there is a critical need to understand the interactions between forest fires and watershed processes. We take this unique opportunity to evaluate the ecological impacts of the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire on hydrological process, water quality and aquatic habitat. Specifically, we focus on the following three components: 1) Impacts on water quantity and quality by monitoring the differences between three fire sites and four comparable control (unburn) sites (Jeff and Adam); 2) Impacts on snow accumulation and snow-melting processes by comparing the difference between fire, salvage-logging and control sites (Adam and Jeff); and 3) Impacts on in-stream large woody debris recruitment, transportation, and associated aquatic habitat by monitoring three fire and three control sites (Adam). Our key research objective is to establish monitoring sites for evaluation of the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire impacts on water quantity, quality, snow hydrology, and in-stream large woody debris and associated aquatic habitat, and to integrate the results for determining implications for natural variability of effects and designing of forest and watershed management strategies (watershed indicators, prescribed burning, salvage logging, etc.).

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