OUR VIEW: Glad it was a short burn season

Published 11:30 am Saturday, March 25, 2023

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As the weather warms, many of you may wonder why all of a sudden, you started to see a smoke haze and smell wood burning. 

That is mostly due to the prescribed or controlled burning throughout the county and West Point Lake.

These fires are lit intentionally to safely reduce overgrown trees, brush and vegetation that can fuel wildfires. Reducing these elements that provide fuel to fires minimizes the risk of larger, more dangerous fires and protects the community. Controlled burns are also essential for certain species and help restore the ecosystem.

While these actions impact air quality in the short term, they ultimately help to improve the ecosystem.

Luckily, this year we will not have to endure the haze and smoke for too much longer because, according to Chief Park Ranger Ben Williams, there is only one more wildlife reduction burn scheduled for this season.

Why such a quick season? In short, Mother Nature gave us a break. 

“It’s really dependent upon the situation and the weather for the day,” Williams said. “Every burn that we execute at West Point has a prescribed burn plan.”

West Point Lake’s Army Corps of Engineers burn plans rely on many variables, including weather conditions. 

The humidity levels, wind speed and direction are important factors for ensuring that the prescribed burns don’t jump over fire breaks. 

The park rangers conduct controlled wildfire reduction burns every five years. These burns help reduce the fuel load, like pine needles and leaf litter that accumulates on the forest floor.

For many reasons, we are glad Mother Nature was on the side of the Army Corps of Engineers this year.