Hoosier National Forest staff have several prescribed burns planned this fall if weather cooperates. At this time there are areas planned in Brown, Jackson, Martin, Orange and Perry Counties.
Each of the areas has been identified to improve wildlife habitat or woodland restoration. Other areas may also be included later in the fall burning program.
“We just completed our first burn for the fall near Union Cemetery in Martin County,” Hoosier Fire Management Officer Terry Severson explained. ” We will continue to watch for opportunities to complete others when the weather is optimal.”
Severson says each burn area requires a different ‘prescription,’ which determines what wind direction and speed, temperature and fuel moisture are required for any given burn to be ignited.
“The more areas that we have ready to go, the more likely on any given day and weather forecast we’ll be able to find an area that we can burn,” he added. “There are only a limited number of days during the year that are suitable for prescribed burning so the Forest wants to maximize their opportunities.
Severson explained wind direction is often the limiting factor with adjacent roads or private homes so the Hoosier prioritizes areas.
If the burns don’t occur this fall, and the conditions are right this winter, the Forest could conceivably burn in December or January.
Each area 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 a significant number of burning snags, the areas may be closed for several days for public safety. In at least one area, a trail may also be temporarily closed until the area is safe. Signs are posted along the fire line and at any logical entry points into the area.
Hunters are asked to use caution and pay particular attention to signs posted in areas they plan to hunt. In general, fire-fighters avoid burning during the firearm deer hunting season.
The exact date of each burn is dependent on weather and fuel conditions. Prescribed fires will be lit by hand, using drip torches. Forest staff notifies the public in the immediate area of the prescribed burn by letter.
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. Severson encourages 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, to contact the Forest Service.
“We want to do everything we can to minimize effects on our neighbors,” Severson says.
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.