NEW JERSEY STATE FOREST FIRE SERVICE PRESCRIBED BURNING BEGINS
SEASONAL PROGRAM PROTECTS LIVES AND PROPERTY BY REDUCING DEBRIS AND
UNDERGROWTH THAT CAN FUEL LARGE WILDFIRES
(16/P8) TRENTON – The New Jersey State Forest Fire Service advises residents that its seasonal prescribed burning program – which reduces wildfire risks by burning buildup of undergrowth, fallen trees and branches, leaves and other debris on forest floors – is now under way.
“The state’s prescribed burning program, conducted only under exacting conditions and by highly trained personnel, is an important management tool in protecting lives and property, while providing an important additional benefit of keeping our wildlands ecologically healthy,” said Richard Boornazian, DEP’s Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources
These burns are generally conducted during the mid- to late-winter months to minimize the amount of smoke produced, and when weather conditions tend to be safer for controlled fires. Residents near areas where controlled burns are taking place can expect to see large plumes of smoke.
For more information about New Jersey’s prescribed burning program and where burns are expected to be conducted, contact the State Forest Fire Service at (609) 292-2977. 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 New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry will provide as much notice as possible of prescribed burns through its facebook page at:www.facebook.com/newjerseyforests
Prescribed burns, also known as controlled burns, help reduce forest fire risks prior to entering the prime wildfire season, which in New Jersey generally begins in the early spring, when leaves and debris are abundant, tree cover is sparse, and conditions tend to be dry and windy.
“Prescribed burns that take place now reduce accumulations of forest undergrowth, fallen branches, leaves and downed trees that can become tinder for wildfires during dry periods in the spring,” said State Fire Warden Bill Edwards. “Both the safety of our firefighters and the general public are our top priorities as we implement these burns.”
Most of these burns will occur on state-owned property, such as state forests and wildlife management areas, as well as other public lands.
Prescribed burns are scheduled for today in the Pinelands of eastern Burlington County; Double Trouble State Park in Ocean County; and several state-owned Wildlife Management Areas in Cumberland County, including parts of Commercial Township, Fairfield Township and Millville.
Prescribed burns are carried out by highly trained and experienced firefighters under precise weather conditions and with the necessary support equipment. Roads in areas where burns are taking place are clearly marked. Motorists traveling through these areas are advised to observe posted precautions and slow down.
These burns help keep forest ecosystems healthy by improving habitat for wildlife, managing competing species of plants and trees, controlling insects and disease, and recycling important nutrients into the soil.
The Forest Fire Service, part of the DEP’s Division of Parks and Forestry, expects to burn between 10,000 and 20,000 acres of forests and grasslands this season, depending on weather conditions. These prescribed fires do not reach the canopy of the forest or cause significant loss of mature trees as wildfires do.
During the burns, firefighters employ best management practices to control 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
NOTE: 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.