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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2015

Contact: Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Bob Considine (609) 292-2994

FOREST FIRE SERVICE PRESCRIBED BURNING PROGRAM UNDER WAY
PROGRAM IS INTEGRAL PART OF STATE’S EFFORTS TO REDUCE WILDFIRE RISKS

image(15/P24) TRENTON – New Jersey State Forestry Services advises residents that the seasonal prescribed burning program is under way. The controlled burning program, implemented by the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, is an important part of the state’s strategy to reduce risk of wildfires that could threaten property or lives.

“Prescribed burning is part of a planned strategy that the state uses to reduce accumulations of undergrowth, fallen branches and downed trees that can act as tinder and increase the severity of wildfires, making them difficult to control,” said State Forester Lynn Fleming. “Prescribed burns help protect lives and property and, at the same time, improve the overall health of our forests.”

Prescribed burns are taking place today in parts of Cumberland, Burlington, Ocean and Monmouth counties.

Residents in areas where burns are taking place may expect to see smoke. For more information about New Jersey’s prescribed burning program and where burns are expected to be conducted, contact the State Forestry Services at (609) 292-2977 or “like” the State Forestry Services’ Facebook page: www.facebook.com/newjerseyforests 

Weather conditions and other factors play a significant role in determining how much notice can be provided to the public about burns.

When in doubt about the source of the smoke or fire, call 9-1-1 or  877-WARN-DEP  (877-927-6337)

The Forest Fire Service, part of the DEP’s Forestry Services, expects to burn about 10,000 acres of forests and grasslands this season. These fires burn brush, leaves, needles and debris but do not reach the canopy of the forest or cause significant tree loss as wildfires do. They improve forest health by removing thick undergrowth and competing non-native trees that can harm the overall health of the forest.

“Prescribed burning is just one practice that State Forestry Services relies on to maintain overall forest health. When combined with insect and disease treatments, habitat restoration, and carefully executed management plans, our forests will provide a greater diversity of habitats for wildlife, and create safe recreation opportunities for residents,” Fleming said.

Prescribed burns, which are part of New Jersey’s Statewide Forest Resource Assessment and Strategies, are carried out by highly trained and experienced firefighters, under exacting weather conditions and with the necessary support equipment.  Prescribed fires are generally conducted during the winter months to minimize the amount of smoke produced, and when weather conditions tend to be safer for controlled fires.

“Firefighter and public safety are our top priorities as we implement these burns,” says State Firewarden Bill Edwards. “Roads in areas where burns are taking place are clearly marked. Motorists are advised to observe the posted precautions and slow down.”

These burns help reduce forest fire risks prior to entering the prime wildfire season, which in New Jersey generally begins in early spring, when leaves and debris are abundant, tree cover is sparse and conditions tend to be windy.

While the principal reason for prescribed burning is wildfire hazard reduction, the practice also has numerous secondary benefits, including improving habitat for wildlife, recycling nutrients into the soil, enhancing the appearance of the forest and improving the overall health of woodlands by removing dense undergrowth. Most of these burns will occur on state-owned property, such as state forests and wildlife management areas, as well as other public lands.

During the burns, firefighters employ best practices to manage smoke impacts but nearby residents and forest visitors should expect temporary smoke in the vicinity of any prescribed fire activity.

For more information on wildfires in New Jersey and a list of contact numbers for regional Forest Fire Service offices, visit www.njwildfire.org

For more information on New Jersey’s Statewide Forest Resource Assessment and Strategies, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/forest/docs/NJFSassessment.pdf

Media interested in seeing prescribed burns in action and talking to experts from the New Jersey Forest Fire Service can make arrangements through the DEP’s Press Office at the numbers above.

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Last Updated: March 12, 2015