Thu May 23, 2013
Burning A Forest To Save It
The U.S. Forest Service is planning a prescribed burn in part of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Bayfield County this weekend.
The fire is needed to protect what’s left of Wisconsin’s rare Pine Barrens habitat.
Wisconsin's Pine Barrens are dominated by grasses and plants with small clusters of young pine trees. It’s a unique habitat and one that’s disappearing in Wisconsin. It’s estimated that before European settlers arrived there were more than 2 million acres of Pine Barrens; the Forest Service says there's less than 1 percent of that left, today. U.S. Forest Service representative Suzanne Flory says Pine Barrens need fire to thrive, so they’re torching 2,500 acres this weekend.
“Historically there were a lot of frequent fires that were in those areas, and that would keep things healthy in this rare ecosystem. Over the years, suppressing fire became more of a way that things were done: the ecosystem started to suffer because of that. So, we’ve re-introduced that fire into the system, allowing for it to be healthy.”
Flory says the Forest Service is aware that people may be wary about seeing large columns of smoke after the recent wildfire in Douglas County. She says the smoke shouldn’t be much of a problem, but the odor may be noticeable in Iron River and Ashland.