Fire Brings Life to Forest

Fire burning along the ground.Fire helps maintain healthy oak forests, according to scientists who study birds, native plants and other wildlife. That’s why Shawnee National Forest recently used fire as a tool to restore more than 9,000 acres.

“Fire rejuvenates the forest. It increases nutrient availability, favors some plants over others, and can remove some litter and smaller trees and brush. This lets more sunlight into the forest floor, which is important for oak trees, the dominant tree in Illinois’ forests, and many sun-loving plants,” said Scott Crist, the forest’s expert on prescribed fire.

A more open forest is critical to a group of birds on the decline. The Central Hardwoods Joint Venture says that long-term fire suppression has caused a significant loss of structural and plant diversity within forests and is one of the top threats facing birds, particularly those that depend on grasslands or a more open forest, often called a woodland.

Learn more about these priority birds and the habitats they need.

Learn more about the Let the Sun Shine In effort.