Crews started work this week on a prescribed fire in the Dormer River Valley in Banff National Park to restore the grasslands in the area.

On Thursday, about 30 firefighters from Parks Canada and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development went into the back country to burn in a 6,800-hectare area.

Staple/Parks Canada / For the Calgary Herald

They will burn again in the area when they get another opportunity.

“We don’t try to make it black edge-to-edge-to-edge,” said Park. “If we get anywhere from 40 to 50 per cent of it burned, then we’ll call that success.

“We’ll be targeting some of the open meadow features.”

Park said it’s a good time to burn with the dry spring conditions.

“We usually try to target this time of year because the coniferous trees go through what’s called a spring dip,” she explained. “What happens is the foliage — the needles of the tree — get fairly dry because they are transpiring and they are not able to draw a lot of water out of the ground.

“It allows us to do these larger, stand-replacing fires when the moisture is low in the trees.”

The Dormer Valley is adjacent to the Panther River Valley, which is where bison will be reintroduced in the coming years.

“Bison habitat isn’t one of our key objectives there,” said Park, “but it will contribute to better habitat for lots of those grazing species like bison, elk and sheep.”

Because of its remote location, Park said, the smoke likely won’t be visible in Calgary. It could, however, be noticeable in the Sundre and Red Deer areas.

The area, which was partly burned in 2006, is closed to ensure public safety.