Ministry of Labour and Citizens' Services

Wildfire Response and Recovery

Discussion of Seeding

Rick Tucker

Rick Tucker is a Range Agrologist with the southern Interior Region of the Ministry of Forests.

Discussion Notes:

  • Why not use native seed:
    • Need 30 – 60% coverage to discourage erosion
    • Native seed germinates and grows slowly
    • Availability is also a problem
  • Lynne Atwood has put in experimental plots at Vaseux:
    • Established in the summer of 2004
    • Comparing native to agronomic seed
    • Will monitor for 5 years
  • Aerial seeding in draws immediately post-fire (autumn) helped when floods came in the following July – August.
  • The Okanagan Valley has been the scene of a giant seeding experiment with hand seeding, aerial seeding, plugs, and other techniques.
  • Some areas are using a non-persistent agronomic mix. US National Parks have used sterile agronomics
  • Vaseux wanted to avoid genetic pollution from “native” seeds that came from other seed stocks outside of Vaseux.
  • Need to identify where fire has been so hot that roots have been killed.
    • Labor intensive
    • May overseed, but cheaper than assessment
    • A visual assessment protocol needs to be developed so that decisions re: to seed or not to seed and with what, can be made immediately following (or even during) a fire. This may have been done in the US.
    • US has teams known as BAER (Burn Area Emergency Rehabilitation) Teams. They are in communication with the Incident Commander on the fire.
  • Can seeding help break up hydrophobicity?
    • Need a reasonable coverage of vegetation (>50%)
    • Reference: Wildfire and Conservation in the Western US. 2004. Williams, J. and D. DellaSala (editors). Conservation Biology 18(4). Papers 16 and 17.
      • 16: Postfire Seeding for Erosion Control: Effectiveness and Impacts on Native Plant Communities. Beyers, J.
      • 17: Postfire Management on Forested Public Lands of the Western US. Beschta, R. et al.
  • Is there an ecosystem function to erosion? Are we doing what we did for decades with fire suppression by suppressing this natural function?
    • Limit erosion suppression to areas where it may have an impact on human values
    • Ridge tops are a concern for weed spread
    • Historically burns were cool enough to keep below ground structures alive so vegetative cover was high enough to prevent erosion soon after the fire.
  • Seed contamination by weeds
    • Forage common # is certified free of noxious weeds by Agriculture Canada
  • Weed situation is worse on fire guards – Can we keep dirty machines off fire guards?
    • Difficult to do in the heat of the moment.
    • In Washington State they use portable washing units.

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