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Hoosier National Forest Planning Prescribed Burns
Updated November 2, 2015 6:59 PM | Filed under: Natural Resources
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(BEDFORD) - Hoosier National Forest staff have completed one prescribed burn this fall and have three more planned if weather cooperates. 

"We had a small window of opportunity a couple weeks ago when the weather was perfect for a fall burn," says Hoosier Fire Management Officer Terry Severson. "It was earlier than we can normally burn, but we were ready and it went well."

Forest staff burned a 25-acre warm season grass opening in Crawford County on October 15. A small portion of the area had burned in a wildfire in June so part of the field had regrown.

"The regrowth resulted in the fire not carrying well through that portion of the burn which created a mosaic of habitat," Severson added. "We were very pleased with the fire effects and feel this will benefit wildlife and pollinators come spring."

A larger, 250-acre area of wetland grasses and woodland is planned in Orange County near Roland. This area surrounds the Roland Wetland.

Two other areas to be burned this fall are both woodlands with glades and barrens.  The Rattlesnake Burn is 1,034 acres with the goal to improve oak-hickory regeneration.  The Bull Hollow Burn is 654 acres and is being burned for glade/barren restoration as well as to improve oak-hickory regeneration.  Both areas are in the Mogan Ridge area of Perry County. 

The prescribed burns are planned for this fall as weather and conditions become favorable but burning all the areas may not be possible.  Severson explains each year more acres are prepared for prescribed burns than are actually burned.

"Each burn area requires a different 'prescription,' which determines what wind direction and speed, temperature and fuel moisture are required for any given burn to be ignited," he says. "The more areas we have ready to go, the more likely on any given day and weather forecast we'll be able to find an area that we can burn." 

There are only a limited number of days during the year that are suitable for prescribed burning so the Forest wants to maximize their opportunities.

Severson explained wind direction is often the limiting factor with adjacent roads or private homes so the Hoosier prioritizes areas by ecological objectives and then wind direction. 
If the burns don't occur this fall, and the conditions are right this winter, the Forest could conceivably burn in December or January.

Each area will be closed 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 a significant number of burning snags, the areas may be closed for several days for public safety.  Signs will be posted along the fire line and at any logical entry points into the area. The Mogan Ridge Trail runs through both the Rattlesnake and Bull Hollow burns so this trail will be closed during and after these burns until the area is safe.

Hunters are asked to use caution and pay particular attention to signs posted in areas they plan to hunt. In general Severson says fire-fighters avoid burning during the firearm deer hunting season.

The exact date of each burn is dependent on weather and fuel conditions. Prescribed fires will be lit by hand, using drip torches. Forest staff notifies the public in the immediate area of the prescribed burn by letter.  If Forest neighbors wish to know the specific date of the ignition, they can call the Forest dispatch office to be informed once the decision is made to burn. Severson encourages anyone with medical issues who might be affected by smoke, such as asthma or emphysema who live immediately around where a prescribed burn is planned, 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 the Indiana Interagency Coordination Center Dispatcher at (812) 547-9262.

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