FOREST FIRE SERVICE TARGETS AREAS AROUND MILITARY
RANGE FOR PROTECTIVE BURNING OPERATIONS
(08/09) TRENTON - Working to protect lives and property by reducing wildfire hazards, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service will be conducting prescribed burns in areas of the Pinelands near the Warren Grove Gunnery Range, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson announced today.
Various burns will be conducted over the next several weeks around and within woodlands burned during last year’s wildfire that was sparked by training exercises at the military bombing range in southern Ocean County.
“The objective of these prescribed burning operations is to safeguard residents and protect properties, particularly in the populous regions to the east of the target range, by eliminating the fuels that can turn a small fire into a conflagration,” Commissioner Jackson said.
Operations will be conducted as weather conditions allow, ending no later than March 15.
The prescribed burns will generate smoke that may drift toward populated areas. This smoke should not be construed as coming from wildfires. The burns are carefully planned, monitored and controlled. Fire breaks are established around the burn areas and fires are only set when weather conditions allow.
The ecosystem is healthiest and safest when smaller fires periodically burn away underbrush and debris such as needles, leaves, fallen branches and twigs. These materials can act as tinder, igniting canopy fires that can be difficult to control.
The operations will include burns of more than 2,200 acres in the state’s Stafford Forge Wildlife Management Area, located southwest of state Route 72. Additional burns will take place in portions of Bass River State Forest to the east and west of county Route 539 between the Garden State Parkway and Range Road.
Also targeted is an extensive “fuel island,” a large area that remained unburned as the result of the Warren Grove wildfire. The Warren Grove fire claimed approximately 24 square miles of woodlands and destroyed three homes in May 2007.
The weather is also monitored to minimize the impact from drifting of smoke. Property owners in the area have been notified.
The burns are being conducted as part of the state’s annual wildfire hazard reduction program. Each year, the Forest Fire Service conducts controlled burns on 10,000 to 15,000 acres of public lands and 5,000 acres of private lands. The Forest Fire Service also utilizes mechanical thinning of underbrush and maintains extensive networks of fire breaks.
One of the most important steps property owners in wooded areas can take is to maintain a cleared and defensible buffer around their homes and other structures. In the Pinelands, the buffer should be at least 100 feet wide.
Campers, hunters and others who enjoy the outdoors are reminded to dispose of cigarettes and matches safely and to douse campfires and charcoal fires thoroughly with plenty of water. Always allow lanterns, stoves and heaters to cool before refueling. Never leave a campfire or grill unattended. All campfires require a permit.
For more information on wildfires and fire safety, go to: www.njwildfire.org