Prescribed Fire -- March 2007
Personnel from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted a series of prescribed burns on Patuxent Research Refuge lands on March 20, 2007. Burns occurred near and around the National Wildlife Visitor Center located off of Powder Mill Road, south of Laurel; and on the North Tract portion of the Refuge located off of MD-198, east of Laurel.
Refuge Manager Brad Knudsen explains, “Research indicates that
controlled burning has many benefits over other habitat management practices.
Fire helps control undesirable exotic plants, maintains grassland habitat
for nesting birds and small mammals, promotes wild flowers and other native
plants, reduces the accumulation of organic debris and releases nutrients
back into the soil. The use of prescribed fire will support Patuxent’s
unique role as a research refuge by allowing scientists to study the effect
of fire on a variety of refuge habitats.” Prescribed burns are authorized
under Patuxent Research Refuge’s Prescribed Fire Plan which was
made available for public review and was approved by Fish and Wildlife
Service officials in 2001.
Burns are conducted on small areas of grassland habitat for management,
restoration and biological research. Since prescribed burns are dependent
on favorable weather conditions, it is difficult to provide significant
advanced notice of when each burn will occur. However, appropriate State
and County agencies are notified in advance of each burn.