During March and April, Monongahela National Forest successfully completed three prescribed burns on 2,081 acres of National Forest System land in Greenbrier and Pendleton counties. These prescribed burns are helping to re-establish fire’s natural role in the forest ecosystem, improve forest health and wildlife habitat and reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires.
The Big Mountain Unit 1 prescribed burn (557 acres) in Pendleton County will help maintain the oak forest, promote oak regeneration and will eventually increase the number of acorns, a critical food for wildlife.
The Peach Orchard (1,119 acres) and Lick Mountain (405 acres) prescribed burns in Greenbrier County will help create conditions that favor oak-hickory and oak-pine communities and reduce vegetation in the understory resulting in increased wildlife habitat diversity, increased mast, and ultimately a healthier forest. Many wildlife species prefer a more open forest floor for breeding and foraging, which can result from periodic prescribed burning.
Firefighters from Monongahela National Forest were assisted by several other organizations during prescribed burning this spring. Of special note was the first-time participation of staff members with The Nature Conservancy. Through a new cooperative agreement, Monongahela National Forest and The Nature Conservancy plan to work together using prescribed fire as a tool in ecological restoration.
The following groups, according to the forest service press release, were involved in the prescribed burns:
- Great Lakes Wildland Fire Module – Huron Manistee National Forest (Michigan);
- Harpers Ferry Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center (West Virginia);
- The Nature Conservancy (West Virginia);
- USDA Forest Service, Allegheny National Forest (Pennsylvania);
- USDA Forest Service, Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests (Colorado);
- USDA Forest Service, Six Rivers National Forest (California);
- USDA Forest Service, Stanislaus National Forest (California); and
- USDA Forest Service, Superior National Forest (Minnesota).