West Virginia

West Virginia

Slow Burn has Conservation Center Seeing Green

April 18, 2011

The first-ever prescribed burn at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepardstown, WA came off without a hitch last Friday, as an 11-acre field was put to flame to remove invading scrubs and small trees, to promote the growth of native prairie grasses, and to help train firefighters.

"Despite recent rain, the weather cooperated last week and our site burned as well as we could have expected. I'm pleased NCTC's first prescribed burn was successful," says Phil Pannill, NCTC's land manager.

Twelve wildland firefighters from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service -- some from NCTC, others from area parks and other Federal duty stations, two from as far away as Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Virginia -- oversaw the hour-long controlled burn, which provided additional training experience as well as ecological benefits to the NCTC property.

Burns of this type are considered the most effective way to promote the growth of prairie grasses, once common in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle. Such grasses -- switchgrass, broomsedge, Indiangrass, others -- grow in clumps, creating ideal habitat for ground-nesting birds and small mammals.

Fred Wetzel assists with NCTC spring burn. (photo by Ryan Haggerty, USFWS)
  Fred Wetzel assists with NCTC spring burn. (Ryan haggerty, USFWS)  


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Last Updated: 4/19/2011