A prescribed burn is planned on roughly 2,500 acres to restore Pine Barrens habitat this weekend. The Washburn Ranger District of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF) will oversee the burn on national forest lands.
Prescribed burns is a term to describe fires set intentionally under controlled circumstances to aid with natural resource management. The fire planned for this week will be set from the air and ground. Precautions are being taken to ensure firefighter and public safety.
Local, state and federal agencies are working together on the burn. Fire managers will rely on spot weather forecasts and air quality monitors will be set up in surrounding areas to track smoke from the blaze.
Pine Barrens ecosystems are plant communities with low concentrations of mature pine trees. Grasses can overrun these regions. Historically, frequent wildfires would maintain these areas, allowing new trees to grow. Fire prevention and suppression in such Wisconsin habitats have reduced their size from a peak of 2.3 million acres at the time of European settlement to less than one percent of that total today. Plants and animals, including, sharp-tailed grouse, upland sandpiper, chryxus arctic and tawny crescent butterflies, eastern bluebird and ternate grapefern depend on these open habitats for their survival. The numbers of some plants and animals have fallen due to decreasing habitat.
The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest manages about 15,000 acres of Barrens habitat. The U.S. Forest Service has restored the Moquah Barrens area through successful use of prescribed burns, dating back to the early 1960s. Monitoring of the area continues to track long-term progress of the burning program.
Follow fire planning and progress at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3390/