What some may have mistaken as an inter-dimensional portal last week was just an eerie combination of cloud and smoke, due to burn piles. The Valemount Community Forest was burning waste piles up the Dave Henry Road, off the East Canoe Forest Service Road.
Valemount Community Forest Manager Craig Pryor says after they log a block there is always tops, limbs and wood that does not meet the bucking specs of target mills. He says they require the loggers to pile this debris in relatively neat piles where it can be burnt in a safe manner. They burn the piles for several reasons: the piles take up space on the ground that needs to be reforested; there is a fire hazard that needs to be taken away; aesthetically the piles may look bad or wasteful to the general public; they are legislated to burn the piles by the government.
Pryor says they always try to leave a small number of piles strategically placed for wildlife habitat. Piles the size of a minivan or a little greater are often left next to creek draws, wildlife tree patches or block boundaries. These piles have good habitat for small mammals, bears and birds. Pryor says they have more burning in the Valemount area before winter.