SHAWNEE NATIONAL FOREST TO USE PRESCRIBED FIRE

Release Date: Apr 5, 2018  

Contact(s): Tracy Fidler, 618-253-1031


HARRISBURG, IL (April 5, 2018) – Shawnee National Forest plans to use prescribed fire Thursday, weather permitting.

Prescribed fire is a planned fire that is overseen by professionals. Fall marked the beginning of the forest’s prescribed burn season, during which professionals plan to burn up to about 10,000 acres. Prescribed fires are performed under specific weather conditions and are designed to mimic fire that historically occurred on the forest.

Fire helps maintain healthy oak forests, according to scientists who study birds, native plants and other wildlife. That’s why Shawnee National Forest uses fire as a tool to restore Southern Illinois forests.

People may notice smoke:

  • West of Equality or around Eldorado, coming from the area of Cave Hill in Saline County

The Forest Service will monitor smoke generated during the prescribed burn. Members of the public can expect smoke to be visible in mid-afternoon and dissipate within a few hours. 

By bringing fire back to the forest, Shawnee 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 the 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.
  • Perpetuate prairie and savannah remnants found within the forest. These remnant plant communities provide habitat for several early-successional song bird species, such as prairie warblers and red-headed woodpeckers. Maintaining these open woodland conditions with prescribed fire increases biodiversity in both plant and animal species.

About Shawnee National Forest

Administered by the USDA Forest Service, Shawnee National Forest is one of 155 national forests nationwide. As the only national forest in Illinois, the Shawnee offers numerous avenues for connecting with the natural world through its 280,000 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 southern Illinois, the fields, forests and streams of the Shawnee welcome you. To discover more about the Shawnee National Forest, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/shawnee. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/shawneenf and Facebook via http://www.facebook.com/shawneenatlforest.

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.

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