Forest Service announces controlled fire season in Alabama’s National Forests

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The USDA Fire Service announced Wednesday that controlled burns will take place within Alabama’s National Forests over the next few weeks.

Federal fire management specialists with the USDA Forest Service use prescribed fires (also known as controlled burns) as a management tool to remove excessive ground debris to help reduce the size and severity of wildfires. The USDA Forest Service is conducting annual prescribed burns on approximately 115,000 acres throughout the Bankhead, Conecuh, Talladega and Tuskegee National Forests.

According to Jay Edwards, acting forest supervisor for the National Forests in Alabama, the USDA Forest Service will conduct dormant and growing season prescribed burns throughout the spring and summer months.

The process began in Bankhead National Forest on February 27, when approximately 250 acres experienced a controlled burn. Edwards states the controlled burns will continue through March and April across 25 different sections of the National Forest, weather-permitting.

Occasionally, the smoke from a controlled burn is carried by the wind into areas further north, such as Florence and Huntsville.

The prescribed burn is an intentionally set fire used to reduce hazardous fuels such as fallen trees and brush that rest on the forest floor.  Fire management specialist also use prescribed fire to improve plant and animal habitats that depend on fire.

Prescribed burns will only take place if weather conditions are favorable.  Please note that visibility could be decreased by smoke in the general areas of the burn and at night as air cools and smoke settles in low lying areas.

If driving in the area of the burn or encounter smoke, slow down and turn headlights “on” while proceeding with caution. Pay special attention for increased presence of Forest Service equipment and burn crew in these areas.

Occasionally trails and special use areas that are impacted by the burn will be closed for public safety and should be avoided. Maps that highlight controlled burn areas are available at www.fs.usda.gov/alabama under the “Know Before You Go” section.

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