Prescribed Fire Brings Life to the Wayne National Forest (Lawrence Co.)
Incident: Fall 2017 Prescribed Burns (WNF) Prescribed Fire
PEDRO, Ohio – Fire helps maintain healthy oak forests, according to scientists who study native plants, birds and other wildlife. That’s why the Wayne National Forest uses fire as a tool to restore southern Ohio forests.
“Fire rejuvenates the forest. It increases nutrient availability, favors some plants over others, and can remove some of the leaf litter and smaller trees and brush. This lets more sunlight into the forest floor, which is important for regenerating oak trees, the dominant tree in Ohio forests, and many sun-loving plants,” said Ironton District Ranger Tim Slone.
Prescribed fire is a planned fire that is overseen by professional firefighters. Fall marks the beginning of the forest’s prescribed burn season, during which professionals plan to burn up to 1,797 acres between October 30th and December 31st, 2017, on the Ironton Ranger District. Areas include:
Lake Vesuvius Prescribed Burn
Size: Approximately 300 acres
Location: Lawrence County, Elizabeth Township, in the vicinity of Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area
Handley Branch Prescribed Burn
Size: Approximately 230 acres
Location: Lawrence County, Symmes Township, in the vicinity of County Road 4.
Bluegrass Prescribed Burn
Size: Approximately 1,267 acres
Location: Lawrence County, Aid Township, in the vicinity of County Road 19.
Prescribed fires are performed under specific weather conditions and are designed to mimic fire that historically occurred on the forest. The Wayne National Forest follows strict guidelines for conducting prescribed burns, and uses environmental factors including temperature, humidity, atmosphere stability, wind-direction and speed as well as smoke disbursement. If any of these conditions are not within limits, the burns will be postponed.
By bringing fire back to the forest, the Wayne National Forest hopes to:
- Encourage the growth of a diverse array of plant life, including sun-loving plants and grasses.
- Ensure oaks remain the keystone species in our forests. Oaks provide food for about 100 different animals. Using fire to bring light into our forests helps oaks grow. Without fire, shade-tolerant species will take over and eventually replace oak as the dominant species in our forest.
- Protect human property by reducing the amount of down, dead wood in the forest. That way if a wildfire happens, it would be less intense, and potentially easier to control.
- Perpetuate oak barrens and woodlands found within the forest. These remnant plant communities provide habitat for several early-successional species. Maintaining these open woodland conditions with prescribed fire increases biodiversity in both plant and animal species.
View maps and the progress of the prescribed burns online by visiting https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5651/ .
To learn more about prescribed burning on the Wayne, contact the Wayne National Forest Public Affairs Office at (740) 753-0862.
About the Wayne National Forest
Administered by the U.S. Forest Service, the Wayne National Forest is one of 154 national forests nationwide. As the only national forest in Ohio, the Wayne offers numerous avenues for connecting with the natural world through its 244,000 acres of varied landscape. Whether your interests lie more in outdoor recreational activities, such as hiking or camping, or include learning about the unique natural and cultural heritage of southeast Ohio, the fields and forests of the Wayne welcome you. To discover more about the Wayne National Forest, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/wayne. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/waynenf and Facebook via http://www.facebook.com/waynenatlonalforest.
The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The Forest Service’s Eastern Region includes 20 states in the Midwest and East, stretching from Maine, to Maryland, to Missouri, to Minnesota. There are 17 national forests and one national tallgrass prairie in the Eastern Region. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/R9.
The U.S. Forest Service 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, visit www.fs.fed.us.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).