Hoosier National Forest to conduct prescribed burns

BEDFORD – The U.S. Forest Service has begun to conduct seasonal prescribed burns to maintain, restore or improve early successional habitat, maintain wetlands, restore unique barrens ecosystems, and regenerate oak and hickory.

Prescribed burns also improve soil health by recycling nutrients and reduce fuel loads, thereby lowering the risk of catastrophic wildfire.

Approximately 5,000 to 6,000 acres are planned to receive prescribed burning in the spring of 2021 on National Forest System lands in the following counties: Brown, Crawford, Jackson, Martin, Monroe, Orange, and Perry. 

A prescribed fire in progress on Hoosier National Forest.

U.S. Forest Service fire managers utilize National Weather Service data 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 for announcements of burns on Facebook and Twitter. Maps and additional details of the burn areas will be available on this website.

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 any hazards are 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 rely on scientific data 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.  When smoke is present, motorists should reduce speeds and turn on headlights.

Oak sprouts two months after the prescribed burn on Hoosier National Forest.

All burns are done under carefully planned prescriptions and protocols to mitigate the risk of an escaped fire and smoke exposure to communities. All planned activities have been carefully coordinated with county emergency management agencies. 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.