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Shawangunk Grasslands National Willdife Refuge Lights Off Second Ever Controlled Burn
Northeast Region, April 24, 2018
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Warm-season grasses fueled great consumption of vegetation in this piece of the burn unit.
Warm-season grasses fueled great consumption of vegetation in this piece of the burn unit. - Photo Credit: USFWS Staff
Outside partners coming together to assist USFWS personnel made this day possible!
Outside partners coming together to assist USFWS personnel made this day possible! - Photo Credit: USFWS Staff

Refuge staff and a multitude of partners came together on April 24, 2018 to complete a prescribed burn on two units that have not yet received fire at Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge. Conditions were optimal as fire personnel from the USFWS, Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, Minnewaska State Park, New York State Forest Rangers, and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation joined the Wallkill River & Great Swamp NWR staff to burn 255 acres of grassland and shrub habitat. The first ever burn at SGNWR was completed in 2016 on a 176 acre unit.
This prescribed burn comes at a strategic point in time to propagate the stands of warm-season grasses planted as part of a major restoration project. The project, which was completed in 2011, converted old military airport runways and taxiways into grasslands, creating 400 contiguous acres of this rare habitat. Fire gives the warm-season grasses a growing boost as emerging cool-season grasses are burned off and extra nutrients are absorbed into the soil from the ash. The result is an expansion of healthy warm-season grasses which provide important nesting habitat for species of concern such as grasshopper sparrow, bobolink, and eastern meadowlark.
Altogether, the day was a success and a great accomplishment for refuge management. The availability of fire crews from several other refuges and partner agencies was immensely helpful. Refuge staff plans to continue rotating sections of the grasslands in the future to maintain high-quality grassland nesting bird habitat.


Contact Info: Daniel Correa, 9083670906, daniel_correaserna@fws.gov
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