Prescribed burn to sustain oak-hickory forest ecosystem and improve wildlife habitat

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NELSONVILLE, Ohio —Fire management personnel for the USDA Forest Service’s Wayne National Forest, Athens Ranger District, are planning to conduct prescribed burning operations within the next two months.

Depending on weather conditions, the district anticipates conditions may be favorable for prescribed burning operations during the period of March 18 through May 20.

Utah Ridge Middle Bailey

The prescribed burn size is approximately 255 acres, located in Athens County, Dover Township.

Historically, Native Americans used repeated burning on the landscape to create open oak-hickory forests which were beneficial for wildlife they hunted and foods they gathered. The Wayne National Forest seeks to keep oak-hickory forests from losing dominance on the landscape in southeast Ohio.

Why burn?

This forest type is fire dependent, meaning occasional prescribed burning actually helps them out compete other species of trees like shade loving maple and beech.
Through the use of prescribed burning, the forest service is creating conditions that allow young oak and hickory trees to thrive.  

Safety first

Significant preparations are undertaken prior to the Wayne National Forest conducting prescribed burns, including physical visits to neighboring communities and homes to provide awareness of the project and explain what residents might expect. Fire lines have been constructed in order to provide the highest degree of safety. Burn units are surrounded by existing roads, trails, and constructed fire breaks that aid in the control of the burn.

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 disbursement. If any of these conditions are not within limits, the burn will be postponed.

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