NJ Forest Fire Service Prepares For Fire Season with Prescribed Burns

Prescribed fire burn

Photo: NIC COURY / AFP / Getty Images

In anticipation of an active fire season, officials from the New Jersey Forest Fire Service are taking proactive steps to protect the state's forests. Yesterday, state fire crews conducted a controlled burn in a high-risk area in Ocean County, marking the beginning of a comprehensive strategy to mitigate fire risks across the state.

Last year, more than 18,000 acres of New Jersey's forests were consumed by wildfires, according to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. This was considered an "abnormally active fire year", prompting authorities to take action. To avoid a repeat of last year's damage, the Forest Fire Service has set an ambitious goal to treat over 25,000 acres with prescribed burns this year.

Prescribed burns, also known as controlled burns, are a well-established method used in forest management. They involve the intentional setting of fires under controlled conditions to achieve specific goals. The primary purpose of such burns is to reduce fuel loads, which consist of dead trees, fallen branches, leaves, and other organic matter that accumulate on the forest floor and can fuel wildfires.

Additionally, these burns serve to promote biodiversity, control pests and diseases, and improve habitats for wildlife. Many ecosystems have evolved with fire and depend on it for their health and survival, making these operations crucial for maintaining the ecological balance.

Traditionally, wildfire season in New Jersey begins in late March or early April. However, due to changing climatic conditions, the wildfire season has been extending from February through the summer.

The New Jersey Forest Fire Service has been the agency responsible for protecting life, property, and the state's natural resources from wildfires since 1906. On average, they deal with 1,500 wildfires each year that damage or destroy around 7,000 acres of the state's forests.

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