The U.S. Forest Service will be conducting prescribed burns to maintain, restore or improve early successional habitat, maintain wetlands, restore unique barrens ecosystems, and regenerate oak and hickory. Prescribed burns also reduce fuel loads, thereby lowering the risk of wildfire impacts.
Due to the overly moist and cold conditions last fall, many planned burns had to be postponed until this spring. Approximately 20 prescribed burns are planned for the following counties: Jackson, Martin, Orange, Perry and Crawford. The sizes of the areas to be burned vary, with the largest unit being 1,120 acres. Specific recreation sites that will be affected include: Fork Ridge Trails, Mogan Ridge Trails (both east and west), portions of Oriole Trail (east of Ind. 66), Indian-Celina Lakes Recreation Area (the access road to Indian Lake and the south section of Two Lakes Loop Trail).
U.S. Forest Service fire managers work closely with the National Weather Service to determine the best days to burn to achieve the goals and to maximize safety. Many specific conditions must be met for a burn to occur, including fuel moisture, wind speed and direction, relative humidity, etc.. Decisions are generally made the day of the burn once parameters have been measured or forecasted. Therefore advance specific notification for a particular burn can be difficult. Forest staff notifies the public in the immediate area of the prescribed burn.
All designated burn areas will be closed to the public on the day of the burn and for some time after the burn until the area is considered safe. If there are any hazards identified within the burn area, the area may be closed for several days for public safety. Burning this spring could extend into spring turkey hunting season. For your safety, please check with dispatch (812-547-9262) if you plan to hunt or camp in or near prescribed burn areas.
If forest neighbors wish to know the specific date of the ignition, they can call the forest dispatch office to be informed once the decision is made to burn. Anyone with medical issues who might be affected by smoke, such as asthma or emphysema, who live immediately around where a prescribed burn is planned, is encouraged to contact the Forest Service. Fuels specialist, Jeremy Kolaks states, “We want to do everything we can to minimize effects on our neighbors.”
For questions on the prescribed burns, to request notification, or to report medical conditions please contact the Indiana Interagency Coordination Center Dispatcher at 812-547-9262.