Montana Burn to Reduce Risk And Improve Big Game Hunting
A low-intensity prescribed burn ignited April 26 on the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge safely removed almost 1,400 acres of overgrown vegetation which had created high fire danger. The burn was completed on April 30 on the west end of the 1.1 million-acre refuge, home to elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer, and bighorn sheep.
A team of 20 firefighters from four national wildlife refuges, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Forest Service managed the burn to decrease the risk of damaging wildfire and allow fire to play its natural role.
“We ran as cool a burn through the area as possible, to reduce the juniper which hadn’t been burned in over a hundred years,” said the refuge’s Fire Management Officer Mike Granger. The burn will stimulate the growth of new grasses, forbs, and shrubs such as chokecherry, sumac, wax currant, golden currant, red-osier dogwood, winterfat, and saltbush.
The burn area along the Missouri River was homesteaded by the King family, before it was acquired by the National Wildlife Refuge System. Four family grave sites from the late 1800s and early 1900s are still intact and were protected during the burn.
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