For the past week, there has been a wildfire burning at the edge of the Green Mountain Wildlife Management Area, started during a lightning storm. This area was set aside specifically to protect marmot habitat. In addition to being home to small colony, it is part of a ridge line that has other colonies as well. The good news is this fire does not appear to pose any direct threat to the marmots or habitat. The fire will likely continue to burn for some time however. We are very grateful to the firefighters and other partners who have been working to ensure this fire did not spread into core marmot habitat.
The Provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development, the B.C. Wildfire Service, and the Marmot Recovery Foundation developed a response plan just this kind of situation in 2015/16. Wildfires can have a huge range of outcomes for marmots.
A small, low-heat fire might improve marmot habitat by clearing tree ingress, and faciliating nutrient release. In the case of a low-heat fire, marmots we suspect that marmots would be able to take refuge underground. A larger, hotter fire however could be devastating. Burrows would be unlikely to protect marmots from the heat, and there would be greater risk of the fire spreading along the ridge. Fortunately, that is not the situation with this fire.
This photo of the fire is from earlier in the week.