One of the reasons the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
uses controlled burns is to reduce the accumulation of organic debris.
High levels of organic debris fuel wildfires that could pose
hazards to wildlife, visitors and local communities.
Controlled burns do much more than make the refuge safer.
They are used as habitat management tools to reduce non-native plant species,
promote overall species diversity and replenish soil nutrients.
Controlled burns are only conducted after intense pre-planning
and under specific weather conditions. Fire personnel are trained to accomplish
the mission of each burn while ensuring that safety of personnel and the public remain the top priority.
Essential firefighting gear includes personal protective equipment (PPE)
as illustrated in the photos below. Each firefighter must wear a hard hat,
gloves, eye protection, and Nomex clothing, and must carry a fire shelter at all times.
Pictures shown here highlight types of equipment and techniques used in a controlled burn,
and show habitat regeneration that occurs after a burn.
In 2012, Patuxent Research Refuge conducted controlled burns on two main habitat types -
grassland and forested savannah.
Photographs courtesy FWS staff. Click on a photo to see a larger version