Controlled burns keeping the Kisatchie National Forest healthy

Controlled burns keeping Kisatchie National Forest healthy

Pollock, Louisiana - Driving into the Kisatchie National Forest near Pollock, smoke overcomes the path and sky as forest officials participate in this year's controlled burn on the Catahoula district.

"It gets more exciting every time you come out here" said Assistant Fire Management Officer, Mark Ploski.

By land and by air, this year officials will burn nearly 1,000 acres of forest.  In an ironic twist, the burning helps the forest grow and survive.

"We're removing that duff layer to get it so that it's not so deep" explained Ploski.  "So that when those long-leaf pine seeds hit the ground, they hit more bare soil and they can germinate and take off".

The controlled burns also help the longevity of natural habitats.  Ploski uses the example of the Robin bird who frequently make the forests of Kisatchie home.

"They'll come in right after this burn and since all this dense vegetation is gone and they can go right into the ground and forage before they make their trip further north" Ploski explained.  "So they're replenishing their energy reserves too".

The controlled burns happen once a year, but forest officials are strategic with the areas in which they burn so that the whole forest gets attention.  One area may not be re-burned until three or four years later.

"It's just a lot of little micro components that we're effecting, but the overall picture, even nationally if you think about it, I'm just doing my small part to help out every year" Ploski said.

This year's burn season will last until early summer.

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