U.S. Army Corps starts prescribed burns

Published 10:19 pm Friday, February 2, 2018

The smell of burning forests will become more common around West Point Lake as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers starts its annual prescribed burning of certain timber stands.

According to a press release from the army corps, more than 2,100 acres of land will burn at Maple Creek Hunting area, Bird Creek Hunting area, Glass Bridge Park, Jackson Creek Hunting Area, Autry Park Hunting area, Holiday Campground, Wehadkee Creek Hunting area, areas near the Lakeside Bike Trail, Evansville Park, Stateline Hunting area, Alligator Creek Park, West Lake Hunting area and Oakland Road Hunting area.

Rebecca Downey, a natural resource specialist for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the burns help with habitat management.

“We also do prescribed burns to manage a lot of the bugs and insects campers and visitors normally experience,” Downey said. “It helps just manage the land.”

Prescribed burns also prevent wildfires by clearing out dry vegetation.

It also improves forest conditions, which helps wildlife, such as deer and turkeys, according to the press release.

“The burns, they have fire breaks,” Downey said. “Roads are natural fire breaks, the water way is a natural fire break, and in the wood line we will plow and till up the ground so that there is no available fuel source for the fire to spread beyond a certain point.”

The burn sites will not be unattended and there will be signage to alert visitors in the area, Downey said.

“We usually don’t close areas down to the public, but you will see signs put up and you’ll start to see the smoke,” Downey said.

“It is safe for visitors to go into a park that we’re doing a prescribed burn, however we encourage them to keep moving.”

The army corps plans the burns in the morning depending on the weather, acreage and wind patterns, Downey said.

“They do not want burns to go past 3 o’clock so there’s enough time to die down a little bit so it would be safe for us to leave the site and then for it to smolder,” she said. “The whole area should be done and burned before the end of the day.”