Beneficial Burning

Beneficial Burning

There are several ecosystem types which require fire for regeneration as well as those which, after years of fire exclusion (thanks to the success and influence of Smokey the Bear) have become unhealthy and pose a wildfire threat due to the fuel load build up. Stands of trees will become stressed by overcrowding, species dependent on fire will start to disappear and an excess of flammable materials present becomes a real and dangerous threat. This is when the right fire, at the right time, closely monitored and controlled by knowledgeable, trained professionals can be very beneficial. Prescribed burns can safely reduce the hazardous fuel load build up, control the spread of invasive plants and pests, provide forage and habitat for wildlife, improve habitat for threatened and endangered species, aid in cycling nutrients, promote healthy growth of trees, understory and herbaceous plants while protecting human communities from destructive wildfires.

The U.S. Forest service, partnering with Green Mountain National Forest fire personnel and local fire departments are using prescribed burns to treat over 100 acres of the 400,000 acre forest. Prescribed burning is being used as a management tool to reduce the heavy accumulation of brush, restore critical wildlife habitat, aid in regeneration of successional growth and improve the overall health of the watershed. The timing for the controlled burns is dependent on weather and vegetation conditions, ignition dates are subject to change but the "burn window" should not exceed 2 weeks.  Although plans are to burn within the next month, if it cannot be completed during the designated window, it will likely be postponed until spring 2015.  Prior to a prescribed burn the crews will prepare the areas, first by constructing control lines on the ground. Then on the day of ignition, crews will further secure the area by "blacklining,”; method of applying fire to a swath of vegetation immediately inside the control lines. The second fire personnel will use drip torches to set interior vegetation alight.

The U.S. Forest service, partnering with Green Mountain National Forest fire personnel and local fire departments are using prescribed burns to treat over 100 acres of the 400,000 acre forest. Prescribed burning is being used as a management tool to reduce the heavy accumulation of brush, restore critical wildlife habitat, aid in regeneration of successional growth and improve the overall health of the watershed. The timing for the controlled burns is dependent on weather and vegetation conditions, ignition dates are subject to change but the “burn window” should not exceed 2 weeks. Although plans are to burn within the next month, if it cannot be completed during the designated window, it will likely be postponed until spring 2015. Prior to a prescribed burn the crews will prepare the areas, first by constructing control lines on the ground. Then on the day of ignition, crews will further secure the area by “blacklining,”; method of applying fire to a swath of vegetation immediately inside the control lines. The second fire personnel will use drip torches to set interior vegetation alight.

The U.S. Forest service manages controlled burns to benefit natural resources as well as reduce the risk of future wildfires. The Forest Service may also manually thin overgrown areas which prepares them for possible return of natural fire cycles while lessening the fuel load and potential for spread to undesirable areas. A “burn plan” is developed by specialists within the agency; the plans identify ideal conditions under which the best results will be achieved for the ecosystem of concern. Temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, vegetation moisture levels and smoke dispersal are all considered when developing the burn plan, these factors could affect the efficacy and safety of the prescribed burn and must be continuously evaluated during planning. On-site conditions may differ from those outlined in the plan, so it must be a living, evolving document capable of being adjusted to produce the best results and implemented by trained, experienced individuals.