Prescribed burns planned for WNF

Published 9:31 am Monday, September 10, 2018

Will be held sometime between Sept. 15-Dec.

PEDRO — Wayne National Forest will soon have prescribed burns to help to restore southern Ohio forests, protect property and bring back oak trees.

A prescribed fire is a planned fire that is overseen by professional firefighters.

“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,” said Ironton District Ranger Tim Slone. “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.”

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Fall marks the beginning of the forest’s prescribed burn season, during which professionals plan to burn up to 1,710 acres between Sept. 15 and Dec. 31 on the Ironton Ranger District.

Areas include a prescribed bun on 450 acres in the vicinity of Lake Vesuvius. There will be a second prescribed burn on 1,260 acres 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 dispersion. 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 do several things including encouraging the growth of a diverse array of plant life, such as sun-loving plants and grasses

The fires also ensure that oaks remain the keystone species in the forests. Oaks provide food for about 100 different animals.

Using fire to bring light into the forests helps oaks grow. Without fire, shade-tolerant species will take over and eventually replace oak as the dominant species in the forest. The burns help 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.

The prescribed burns also help 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 for firefighters to get under control.

To learn more about prescribed burning on the Wayne, contact the Wayne National Forest Public Affairs Office at (740) 753-0862.

For more information, visit our website at Follow the Wayne National Forest on Twitter: @waynenationalfs and Facebook.