Planned for South Newton and Southampton townships, Cumberland County, the prescribed burn is designed to reduce heavy fuel loading and the potential for extreme wildfire, control growth of invasive species, and improve forest regeneration and wildlife habitat.
“The burn is tentatively scheduled for early November, however, if conditions don’t present an opportunity then, we will try again after Pennsylvania’s regular rifle deer hunting season,” said Michaux State Forest District Fire Forester Philip M. Bietsch. “We could potentially burn anytime until mid-April. We have a short window in early fall prior to rifle season, then, after that, we will hopefully get it in as soon as conditions allow.”
The area targeted totals 1,926 acres, Bietsch said, and is between Ridge, Hogshead and Big Pond roads. Roads will be closed in this area, commonly known as Hairy Springs, and near the local state forest vista, Buzzards Rock.
“We are trying to get the word out now,” Bietsch said, “to give hunters and other forest visitors as much notice as possible so they can adjust hunting plans or any other recreational activities as needed.”
The fire forester said the burn will reduce fuel loading in the state forest, thus decreasing the potential for severe wildfires.
Specifically, the burn is designed to reduce mountain laurel cover in the tract; increase vigor of oak regeneration; prepare a more suitable seed bed by reducing the forest’s duff layer; increase gaps in overhead canopy; and increase the area’s scrub oak component.
The burn start date will be determined by weather and burning conditions, both of which the DCNR says are important to ensure fire and smoke can be controlled throughout the burn, and that ecological goals are met.
Signs will be posted in the area the day of the burn, and a map of affected areas will be posted at the district office. The burn will be conducted in accordance with the Pennsylvania Prescribed Burning Practices Act.
On the day of the burn, area residents and local travelers may see fire trucks, fire police, forestry staff, fire, smoke and other activities in the area. This activity is normal and part of efforts to ensure safe and successful completion of this significant resource management effort.
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