Prescribed Fire Brings Life to the Wayne National Forest

Release Date: Sep 7, 2018  

Contact(s): Gary C. Chancey, Public Affairs Officer (740) 753-0862


Burn Window: Approximately Sept. 15 through Dec. 31, 2018

PEDRO, Ohio - Fire helps maintain healthy oak forests, according to scientists who study native plants, birds and other wildlife. That’s why the Wayne National Forest uses fire as a tool to restore southern Ohio forests.

“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. 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,” said Ironton District Ranger Tim Slone.

Prescribed fire is a planned fire that is overseen by professional firefighters. 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, 2018, on the Ironton Ranger District. Areas include:

Lake Vesuvius Prescribed Burn
Size: Approximately 450 acres
Location: Lawrence County, Elizabeth Township, in the vicinity of Lake Vesuvius.

Bluegrass Prescribed Burn
Size: Approximately 1,260 acres
Location: Lawrence County, Aid Township, 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:

  • 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 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, and potentially easier to control.

  • 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.

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 http://www.fs.usda.gov/wayne. Follow the Wayne National Forest on Twitter: @waynenationalfs  and Facebook.

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 twenty 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.usda.gov/.

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/wayne/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD594948