The US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service plans to use prescribed fire as a forest management tool during March, April, and May on the Allegheny National Forest. We do not have exact dates yet. Our operations are weather dependent, and we will implement prescribed fires at the optimal time to achieve the best results. We will notify communities near the burn sites 24 to 48 hours before ignitions. To keep community members well informed we will post road signs, road guards, and live information on our social media accounts (@Allegheny_NF on Twitter) while burns are conducted. This spring, we plan to treat 800 acres spread across five project areas located in both the Marienville and Bradford Ranger Districts.
We conduct prescribed fires with the safety of the public and firefighters as the highest priority. We use fire as a tool only when the parameters of our approved burn plan are met, including wind speed and direction, relative humidity, temperature, fire danger, seasonal restrictions, and mitigation of potential smoke impacts.
Fire management staff, in collaboration with Forest resource specialists, identified wildfire fuels reduction, forest health, wildlife, and ecosystem management objectives to accomplish with the use of prescribed fires.
Fires are a historic and natural process for some ecosystems on the Allegheny National Forest, grasslands and oak-hickory forests are two prime examples. Oak-hickory forests, which comprise approximately 16 percent of the Forest, require periodic fires to reduce competing undesirable vegetation, recycle soil nutrients and stimulate the increased production of acorns, blueberries, blackberries, and other mast crops.
White-tailed deer, turkey, butterflies, songbirds, grouse, snakes, turtles, and other wildlife species utilize burned areas for feeding, nesting, warming, and a place to raise their young. Prescribed fires also reduce the amount of hazardous fuels that, when left unburned, can lead to uncontrolled wildfires that could threaten human life and property.