PINEVILLE, LA - The following is a news release from the U.S. Forest Service
Local residents may see smoke in forested areas as managers with the Kisatchie National Forest conduct controlled burns. Fire is a tool used by forest managersto achieve several goals.
The open park-like forest in much of Kisatchie is directly attributed to prescribed fire. As thick undergrowth increases and dead limbs, needles and brush accumulate, the potential for a disastrous wildfire increases. Controlled burns reduce dangerous forest fuels which build up over time.
Other positive effects from controlled burns include preventing the spread of forest insect pests, diseases and invasive species. Controlled burning improves the habitat for wildlife species including wild turkey, song birds and the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Controlled burning provides for a quick release of nutrients resulting in rapid growth of mineral rich wildlife forage plants.
"Here on the Kisatchie National Forest we perform controlled burns from late fall to early summer, depending on the weather," explained Ed Bratcher, Fire, Lands and Minerals Team Leader. "Very stringent weather conditions are necessary to accomplish the controlled burn in the correct way and to avoid smoke impacts in populated areas, highways and airports. Safety is our top priority. We employ professional fire managers who know how and when to burn portions of the forest to achieve the desired results."
These managers utilize locally trained professional wild land irefighters and other professional crews from across the nation to accomplish the burning.
"This year we will use two helicopters, ground crews, bulldozers and wild land fire engines to accomplish our goal of burning 130,000 acres," Bratcher said. "Typically we burn in blocks of about 1,000 acres." Visitors and residents will see controlled burns taking place in Vernon, Rapides, Grant, Natchitoches, Winn, Claiborne and Webster parishes.