WNF prepares for prescribed burns

Published 11:11 pm Saturday, November 1, 2008

If weather conditions remain suitable over the next three weeks, the Wayne National Forest plans to conduct two prescribed burns this fall in its Ironton and Athens Ranger Districts.

The Young’s Branch prescribed burn is scheduled for Monday on the Ironton Ranger District. The approximately 400-acre burn area is located in Decatur Township in Lawrence County, as well as Vernon and Bloom Townships in Scioto County.

The burn area, as well as Forest Service Road 132, and a portion of the Wolcott ORV Trail area will be under a closure order starting Sunday and will be active until further notice for public health and safety.

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Also in the next few weeks, firefighters on the Athens Ranger District will prepare for the Kern Prairie prescribed burn. The burn area is in Star Township in Hocking County and consists of mostly grasslands.

The Forest Service and other land management agencies at the state and federal level, routinely use prescribed burning as a way to reduce hazardous fuels and to help support wildlife habitat for the hundreds of migratory birds, and small and large mammals that make Ohio their home at some part of the year.

Significant preparations are undertaken to allow the U.S. Forest Service to conduct these burns, including physical visits to neighboring communities and homes to talk about the project and what residents might expect. There are hundreds of feet of fire line several feet wide that have been constructed in order to provide the highest degree of safety. The fire lines also connect to roads and trails to provide protection.

The U.S. Forest Service follows strict guidelines for conducting prescribed burns nationally, and uses factors including the humidity, moisture content of the forest, winds, and temperatures to determine when and where they can conduct the operations. If any of these conditions are not within limits, the burn will be postponed.

The U.S. Forest Service manages the Wayne National Forest’s almost 241,000 acres covering 12 counties in southeastern Ohio.