New Jersey State Forest Fire Service advises residents that its seasonal prescribed burning program - which reduces wildfire risks by burning buildup of undergrowth, fallen trees and branches, leaves and other debris on forest floors - is now under way. "The state's prescribed burning program, conducted only under exacting conditions and by highly trained personnel, is an important management tool in protecting lives and property, while providing an important additional benefit of keeping our wildlands ecologically healthy," said Richard Boornazian DEP's Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resourses. These burns are generally conducted during the mid to late winter months to minimize the amount of smoke produced, and when weather conditions tend to be safer for controlled fires. Residents near areas where controlled burns are taking place can expect to see large plumes of smoke. For more information about New Jersey's prescribed burning program and where burns are expected to be conducted, contact the State Forest Fires Service at 609-292-2977.
Weather conditions and other factors play a significant role in determing how much notice can be provided to the public about the burns. When in doubt about the source of the smoke or fire, call 911 or 877-WARNDEP (877-927-6337). Residents can also call Division B of the New Jersey Forest Service located on Route 72 in New Lisbon at 609-729-9210.
Prescribed burns, also known as controlled burns, help reduce forest fire risks prior to entering the prime wildfire season, which in New Jersey generally begins in the early spring, when leaves and debris are abundant, tree cover is sparse, and conditional tend to be dry and windy. "Prescribed burns that take place now reduce accumulations of forest undergrowth, fallen branches, leaves and downed trees that can become tinder for wildfired druing dry peridos in the spring, " said State Fire Warden Bill Edwards. "Both the safety of our firefighters and the general public are our top priorities as we implement these burns." Most of these burns will occur on state-owned property, such as state forests and wildlife management areas, as well as other public lands. Prescribed burns are carried out by highly trained and experienced firefighters under precise weather conditions and with the necessary support equipment. Roads in areas where burns are taking place are clearly marked. Motorists traveling through these areea are advised to observe posted precautions and slow down. These burns help keep forest ecosystems healthy by improving habitat for wildlife, managing competing species of plants and trees, controlling insects and diseases, and recycling important nutrients into the soil.
If you have questions or want more information on how you can help with the LeisureTowne Firewise program please send an e-mail to Kathy Agolio at the following address: Firewiselt2013@gmail.com