Prescribed burns at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge could start soon

click to enlarge Prescribed burns at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge could start soon
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Flickr
As is typical for spring and fall, prescribed burns like the one shown here are planned at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

People might soon see smoke in the area of Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge as part of regular prescribed burns that managers typically conduct in spring and fall.

Those burns, which are planned out with state and federal agencies, are highly dependent on weather and soil conditions, explains refuge manager Alice Hanley on Monday, April 8.

"If it stays too wet, or if green-up occurs, it’s very hard for us to burn," Hanley says. "We would be hoping we’d be burning possibly next week or the week after, but again we only burn if the conditions are right."

The burns are largely used as a habitat management tool that can return nutrients to the soil and make the grasslands and pine forests healthier, Hanley says.

"It gets rid of some of the hazardous fuels and makes it safer, so we don't have the catastrophic fires that unfortunately some folks experience," she says.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service likes to give people notice before each burn season so they know their visit might be impacted if burns are happening.

"If people see smoke, we obviously still want them to call dispatch, but [we also want them] to know it’s a normal practice, and we don't plan on impacting anybody outside the refuge," Hanley says. "We might close some roads on the refuge when we’re doing a burn, for the safety of our visitors and our firefighters."