Public warned of smoke as Hoosier National Forest begins seasonal burns

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BEDFORD, Ind.—The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced Thursday that seasonal prescribed burns are underway in Indiana woodlands.

Brown, Crawford, Jackson, Martin, Monroe, Orange, and Perry counties will receive these burns this spring on National Forest System lands, totaling about 5-6,000 acres.

The agency said season burns maintain, restore or improve early successional habitat, maintain wetlands, restore unique barrens ecosystems, and regenerate oak and hickory. These burns also improve soil health by recycling nutrients and reduce fuel loads which lower the risk of a disastrous wildfire.

A prescribed fire in progress on Hoosier National Forest

One side effect of prescribed burning is smoke. USFS said fire managers rely on scientific data to choose days of minimal smoke impact, and burn only under atmospheric conditions specified in a burn plan.

According to the agency, plumes of smoke from a prescribed fire usually rise high into the air where the smoke dissipates, but said motorists should reduce speeds and turn on headlights when smoke is present.

For more information on these burns, Hoosiers are asked to check the forest’s social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find maps and more details of burn areas here.

More from Hoosier National Forest:

All designated burn areas will not be accessible to the public on the day of the burn and for some time after the burn until the area is considered safe. If any hazards are identified within the burn area, the area may be inaccessible for several days for public safety. Burning may affect access to hunting areas. For your safety, please contact the Indiana Interagency Coordination Center dispatch (812-547-9262) if you plan to hunt or camp in or near prescribed burn areas.

All burns are done under carefully planned prescriptions and protocols to mitigate the risk of an escaped fire and smoke exposure to communities. All planned activities have been carefully coordinated with county emergency management agencies. Forest neighbors who wish to be notified of a specific date of a burn, or those who wish to report medical conditions that could be affected by smoke, may contact the Indiana Interagency Coordination Center Dispatcher at 812-547-9262.

U.S. Forest Service fire managers utilize National Weather Service data to determine the best days to burn to achieve desired goals and to maximize safety. Many specific conditions must be met for a burn to occur, including fuel moisture, wind speed and direction, and relative humidity, among other factors. Decisions are generally made the day of the burn once parameters have been measured or forecasted. Therefore, advance specific notification for a particular burn can be difficult. Forest staff notifies the public in the immediate area of the prescribed burn.

Oak sprouts two months after the prescribed burn on Hoosier National Forest

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