(BEDFORD) — The U.S. Forest Service will soon conduct prescribed burns to maintain, restore or improve early successional habitat, maintain wetlands, restore unique barrens ecosystems, and regenerate oak and hickory. Prescribed burns also reduce fuel loads, thereby lowering the risk of catastrophic wildfire.
U.S. Forest Service fire managers work closely with the National Weather Service to determine the best days to burn to achieve desired goals and to maximize safety. Many specific conditions must be met for a burn to occur, including fuel moisture, wind speed and direction, and relative humidity, among other factors. Decisions are generally made the day of the burn once parameters have been measured or forecasted. Therefore advance specific notification for a particular burn can be difficult. Forest staff notifies the public in the immediate area of the prescribed burn. The public is advised to check the forest’s social media accounts and website for announcements of burns at www.fs.usda.gov/Hoosier and www.facebook.com/HoosierNF/. Georeferenced maps of the burn areas and additional details will be available at the following website: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6246/.
All designated burn areas will not be accessible to the public on the day of the burn and for some time after the burn until the area is considered safe. If there are any hazards identified within the burn area, the area may be inaccessible for several days for public safety. Burning may affect access to hunting areas. For your safety, please contact the Indiana Interagency Coordination Center dispatch (812-547-9262) if you plan to hunt or camp in or near prescribed burn areas.
An unfortunate side effect of prescribed burning is smoke. Fire managers burn only under atmospheric conditions specified in a burn plan and work with the National Weather Service to choose days in which the impacts of smoke are minimized. Smoke plumes from a prescribed fire usually rise high into the air where the smoke dissipates.
Forest neighbors who wish to be notified of a specific date of a burn, or those who wish to report medical conditions that could be affected by smoke, may contact the Indiana Interagency Coordination Center Dispatcher at 812-547-9262.
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 30 percent of the nation’s surface drinking water to cities and rural communities and approximately 66 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System. The agency also has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 900 million forested acres within the U.S., of which over 130 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.