FOREST SERVICE CONDUCTING PRESCRIBED BURNS
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The USDA Forest Service is conducting prescribed burns on the Bankhead, Talladega, Conecuh and Tuskegee National Forests during January through March. Fire specialists are planning to burn about 90,000 acres to reduce forest fuels, help plant and animal habitat, and protect communities from the threat of wildfires. The Forest Service is asking everyone to be careful and drive slowly with lights on low beam if smoke reduces visibility.
"It is our responsibility to alert communities about prescribed burns taking place in the national forests," said Greg Born, fire management officer for the National Forests in Alabama. During a prescribed burn, travelers and residents near the Bankhead, Conecuh, Talladega and Tuskegee National Forests may see smoke in the area and an increase in uniformed Forest Service fire personnel. "We work hard to mitigate significant smoke impacts into a community," said Born. "Public safety is always our main concern."
Forest Service fire personnel take into account weather conditions and fire behavior before conducting a burn. They work as a team to monitor the burns and make sure the fire does not cross the lines.
A prescribed burn is controlled fire ignited by experienced Forest Service fire specialists. When the weather conditions are just right, forest managers use prescribed fire as a technique to improve the health of the forest. According to Forest Supervisor Miera Crawford, national forests need special treatment to make them more productive. The land management plan requires the Forest Service to use prescribed fire as a tool to open the forest floor to improve wildlife habitat, eliminate competing vegetation, and protect forest neighbors from large wildfires.
The planned burns are as follows: Bankhead Forest -- 15,000 acres in Winston and Lawrence counties; Talladega Forest/Talladega and Shoal Creek Districts -- 21,000 acres in Calhoun, Clay, Cleburne and Talladega counties; Conecuh Forest -- 23,000 acres in Escambia and Covington counties; and Talladega Forest/Oakmulgee District -- 21,000 acres in Bibb, Dallas, Perry, Tuscaloosa, Hale and Chilton counties.