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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Prescribed Burns Accomplished At Deep Fork NWR

Region 2, March 21, 2012
Smoke from the prescribed burn on the LaDoux Unit at Deep Fork NWR.
Smoke from the prescribed burn on the LaDoux Unit at Deep Fork NWR. - Photo Credit: n/a
Firefighters getting ready to conduct a prescribed burn at Deep Fork NWR.
Firefighters getting ready to conduct a prescribed burn at Deep Fork NWR. - Photo Credit: n/a
Prescribed burn at Deep Fork NWR.
Prescribed burn at Deep Fork NWR. - Photo Credit: n/a

Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge conducted prescribed burns on the Refuge between February 24, 2012 and March 13, 2012. The goal of the prescribed fire operation was to enhance and restore wildlife habitat. Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge conducts prescribed burns annually, depending upon funding and weather conditions. Prescribed burns are used by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to manage wildlife habitat and reduce the possibility of wild fires with neighboring landowners.


Nearly a third (3,120 acres) of the Refuge was burned this year due to optimal weather conditions, funding, and available personnel. Prescribed burns were conducted on the Refuge lands around Sharp Road in the areas known as the Whitehill Unit (Chevron) and the LaDoux Unit (by Southwest Cemetery). The River’s Bend Unit, (located at the end of the old Budweiser Distribution Plant Road) off of Banyan Road west of Highway 75, was also burned. A remote area west of highway 75 near Bristlecone Road, was also burned. The area to the east of the Refuge’s maintenance facility was set ablaze, also. This was the first time some of these units had been burned by controlled burns since becoming part of the Refuge.

These controlled burns were planned and carried out by trained firefighters operating under strict conditions, known as prescriptions. These plans detail the number of qualified firefighters, and types and numbers of equipment that must be present to burn. The weather conditions, including wind speed and direction, humidity, fuel moisture, and other factors, are also contained in the plan. Each condition must be within a prescribed range for the burn to take place.

These burns restore the grassland areas, control brush in bottomland hardwood forests, control invasive woody vegetation and will increase the diversity of native plants and wildlife. Other benefits include protection of communities and watersheds by reducing leaf litter and dead timber and thus the potential threats of a wildfire.

The Refuge staff looks forward to seeing the diversity of wildlife return to these burned areas as they green up this spring. Richard Baker, Acting Fire Management Officer, commented the other day that with just the small amount of precipitation and warm temperatures we have had, the green grass was starting to peek through at the Whitehill Unit.

The burn conducted on March 13 will probably be the last burn for a while. Soon the turkey and migratory song birds will be using the forest and grassland areas for building nests and raising young. Come visit the Refuge, view our outstanding wildlife, and connect with nature!

For more information about the prescribed burns at Deep Fork, please contact Lori Jones at 918-652-0456.

Contact Info: Lori Jones, 505-248-6484, lori_jones@fws.gov