FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2010
Derek Casbon: 608-742-7100 Ext. 18
Chuck Traxler, 612-713-5313
Smoke in the air is a sign that prescribed burn season has begun in Wisconsin
From April through mid-June and mid-October through mid-November, fire crews and specialized equipment from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Leopold Wetland Management District, in Portage, Wis., will assemble at Waterfowl Production Areas and or Conservations Easements to safely set prescribed fires that will restore and improve wildlife habitat while reducing the risks of wildfires across south-central Wisconsin.
Prescribed fire is used by the Service and other land management professionals as an effective tool to improve habitat for wildlife. Fire crews are highly trained, and fires are only used after careful planning and coordination. Weather conditions must also be appropriate. Too much wind and/or moisture or lack of moisture can affect how and when fire is used.
“Prescribed fire is one of the most effective management tools we have to maintain and restore vegetation to its natural state,” said Steve Lenz, district manager at Leopold WMD. “The name itself implies benefit is to be gained from carefully planned and implemented fire.”
Last year, Leopold’s crews safely burned 1,805 acres on 13 WPAs in seven counties. This year, burns are planned for 36 WPAs and two conservation easements in the counties of Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Jefferson, Manitowoc, Marquette, Ozaukee, Rock, Sheboygan, Waukesha, Waushara and Winnebago. The areas to be burned are open to public recreation, but public use will be restricted during fire operations.
Prescribed fires simulate historic, naturally occurring wildfires, and they produce great benefits to native plants and animals. Burning the previous year’s plant matter returns nutrients to the soil, encouraging healthier and more productive plant growth. Fire top-kills woody plants such as willow and oak, causing them to sprout from the base. The resulting shoots provide tender, nutritious browse for animals like white-tailed deer. Fruit-bearing plants (like blueberry) are stressed by fire, signaling them to flower and fruit.
“When people see evidence of prescribed fires on the land this spring, they should remember the benefits this management tool brings to Wisconsin,” Lenz said. “It removes accumulated flammable materials, reducing the risks of uncontrolled wild fires, enhances habitat for our wildlife and plants, and maintains those beautiful meadow views we enjoy here.”
For additional information, call Derek Casbon at 608-742-7100 Ext. 18 for fire-related questions or District Manager Steve Lenz at Ext. 11. You may also write to: W10040 Cascade Mountain Road, Portage, WI, 53901.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
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