Hoosier National Forest plans prescribed burns

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BEDFORD –  Hoosier National Forest employees have identified six possible prescribed burns planned for this fall, including a large tract of federal land in Perry County.

An area identified by the Forest Service as Rattlesnake South, 811 acres in the Mogan Ridge area south of Leopold is scheduled for burning. The burn will affect portions of the Mogan Ridge West Trail.

Days available to accomplish these burns are limited by weather and available personnel. Some of the areas may be burned while other areas may not.

Prescribed burning achieves a variety of objectives in restoring forest communities, officials said. Some areas are burned to improve oak and hickory regeneration, while others are burned to increase native grasses and keep the areas open for wildlife.

The prescribed burns will occur when weather and conditions are favorable.  

According to Terry Severson, fire management officer for the forest, each year approximately 2,500 to 3,000 acres are prepared to be burned as weather permits. Last year Hoosier firefighters were able to burn only about half of the planned areas due to usually wet conditions.

Severson said in past years the Hoosier’s prescribed burns have been in the fall and in the spring. “This year we will be more opportunistic with our prescribed burning. If we have a stretch of mild winter days when the conditions are right, we could conceivably burn in December or January.”

Each of the areas will be closed to the public the day of the burn and after the burn until the area is considered safe. When there are significant numbers of burning snags, in some cases the areas may be closed for several days for public safety.  Signs will be posted along the fire line and any logical entry points into the area.

Hunters are asked to used caution and pay particular attention if any signs are posted or if they plan to hunt areas planned for prescribed burns. In general Severson said firefighters avoid the larger burns during the firearm deer season but the two small pond areas might be burned during those weeks.

Residents in the immediate area of the prescribed burn are notified by letter.  People who want to know the specific date can call the dispatch office. Severson  also encourages anyone with medical issues, such as asthma or emphysema who lives immediately around where a prescribed burn is planned and who might be affected by smoke, to contact the Forest Service. For questions on the prescribed burns, to request notification or to report medical conditions, contact the Indiana Interagency Coordination Center dispatcher at 547-9262.