Prescribed Fire Season Underway for Shawnee National Forest

Harrisburg – With the arrival of autumn and the falling of the leaves, the Shawnee National Forest is starting its prescribed fire burn season. The forest is planning to implement prescribed fire for up to 12,000 acres. This will begin in October 2018 through April 2019. The Shawnee National Forest uses fire as a tool to manage our public forests in southern Illinois. Scientific research has shown that fire helps restore and maintain our oak-hickory forests that support native plants, birds and wildlife. Fire rejuvenates the forest. It increases nutrient availability, favors some plants over others, and can remove some litter, smaller trees and brush. This lets more sunlight into the forest floor, which is important for oak trees, the dominant tree in Illinois’ forests, and many sun-loving plants,” said Scott Crist, the forest’s Fire Management Officer. “A more open forest also provides habitat for birds that are considered a priority for conservation.” Prescribed fire is a planned fire that is overseen by professionals. Prescribed fires are performed under specific weather conditions and are designed to mimic fire that historically occurred on the forest.

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