(UNDATED) - The Hoosier National Forest staff have six possible prescribed burns planned for this fall.
Days available to accomplish these burns are always limited by weather and available personnel. Some of the areas may be burned while other areas may not.
Prescribed burning achieves a variety of objectives in restoring forest communities. Some areas are burned to improve oak and hickory regeneration, while others are burned to increase native grasses and keep the areas open for wildlife.
The prescribed burns could occur between the end of October and April 15 as weather and conditions are favorable.
According to Terry Severson, Hoosier Fire Management Officer, each year approximately 2,500 to 3,000 acres are prepared to be burned as weather permits. Last year Hoosier fire-fighters were able to burn only about half of the planned areas due to usually wet conditions.
Severson said in past years the Hoosier's prescribed burns have been in the fall and in the spring. "This year we will be more opportunistic with our prescribed burning. If we have a stretch of mild winter days when the conditions are right, we could conceivably burn in December or January."
Each of the areas will be closed to the public the day of the burn and after the burn until the area is considered safe. When there are significant numbers of burning snags, in some cases the areas may be closed for several days for public safety. Signs will be posted along the fire line and any logical entry points into the area.
Hunters are asked to used caution and pay particular attention if any signs are posted or if they plan to hunt areas planned for prescribed burns. In general Severson said fire-fighters avoid the larger burns during the firearm deer season but the two small pond areas might be burned during those weeks.
Though more areas will be planned for the spring, areas proposed to be prescribed burned this fall include:
- U-38 - 472-acre area south of Birdseye. (Will affect portions of the Birdseye Trail south of Mitchell Creek Road).
- Scott and Maines Pond - two separate units (16 and 44 acres each. One area north of Houston and one is west of Spurgeon's Corner.
- Roland-Moffat - the bottomland fields of this wetland area (335 acres) near Roland.
- Rattlesnake South - 811 acres in Mogan Ridge area south of Leopold. (Will affect portions of the Mogan Ridge West Trail).
The exact date of each burn is dependent on weather and fuel conditions. Fires will be lit by hand, using drip torches. According to Severson, "The public in the immediate area of the prescribed are notified by letter. If they wish to know the specific date of the ignition they can call our dispatch office and we will let them know once we make that decision". He also encourages anyone with medical issues, such as asthma or emphysema that lives immediately around where a prescribed burn is planned who might be affected by smoke, to contact the Forest Service. He notes, "We want to do everything we can to minimize effects on our neighbors."
For questions on the prescribed burns, to request notification, or to report medical conditions please contact Indiana Interagency Coordination Center Dispatcher at 812-547-9262.
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service 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 20 percent of the nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, see www.fs.fed.us.
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