Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Plans a Prescribed Burn for the Moquah Barrens

Release Date: May 22, 2013  
Contact(s): Bob MacGregor, Suzanne Flory

CNNF Firefighter using drip torch on a  prescribed burn Rhinelander, WI May 22, 2013 – The Washburn Ranger District of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF) is planning on conducting a prescribed fire on roughly 2,500 acres to restore Pine Barrens habitat.  The proposed area is on National Forest lands approximately 18 miles west of Ashland, WI and 9 miles northeast of Iron River, WI in T48N, R7W.  The exact timing of the burning is dependent on weather conditions but forecasts call for a window of favorable circumstances occurring between May 24th and May 26th.
Prescribed burning involves the deliberate use of fire within a carefully defined set of weather, terrain and fuel sideboards to accomplish resource objectives.  The prescribed fire planned for this week will use a combination of aerial and ground ignition.  Firefighter and public safety is always the first priority.
The fire will be a cooperative effort with assistance from local State and Federal agencies. Fire managers will be relying on spot weather forecasts personalized to the local area to make decisions. Air quality monitors will be set up in surrounding areas to track movement of the smoke.
Pine Barrens ecosystems are plant communities with low densities of mature pine trees which allow grasses and forbs to become the dominant vegetation.  Historically frequent wildfires would maintain these areas by allowing for tree regeneration.  Due to the extensive application of fire prevention and suppression tactics these, habitats in Wisconsin have decreased in size from a peak of 2.3 million acres at the time of European settlement to less than 1% of that total today.  A host of plant and animal species including, sharp-tailed grouse, upland sandpiper, chryxus arctic and tawny crescent butterflies, eastern bluebird and ternate grapefern, that depend on these open habitats for their survival are experiencing downward trends in population due to the scarcity of this resource.
The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest manages approximately 15,000 acres of the Barrens habitat type.  The Forest has been a pioneer in working towards restoring Barrens in the Moquah area with a history of successful use of prescribed burning that dates back to the early 1960’s.  Intensive monitoring plots scattered throughout the area have carefully recorded the long-term progress of the burning program.
Follow fire planning and progress at

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