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Posted Thursday, March 28th, 2019

The State Forest Fire Service is doing a series of prescribed burns in wooded areas in Chester Township and Rockaway Township today as part of its regular program to reduce undergrowth and other forest floor materials that have the potential to fuel wildfires.

The Fire Service, which is a branch of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, is targeted the following 103 acres of forest and grassland in county and state parks for burns today:

A6 Morris Chester Twp Bamboo Brook Outdoor Center 15 acres/Grass Other Gov.
A6 Morris Chester Twp Kay Environmental Center 15 acres/Grass Other Gov.
A6 Morris Chester Twp Kay Environmental Center 12 acres/Forest Other Gov.
A6 Morris Chester Twp Wildwood Arboretum 35 acres/Grass Other Gov.
A5 Morris Rockaway Twp Farny SP, Split Rock Road 28 acres/Forest State

Forest Fire Service personnel use best management practices and follow a plan to control smoke impacts during the burns, but nearby residents and visitors should expect to see large plumes of smoke and may experience temporary impacts from smoke.

Motorists are also reminded to use caution when approaching areas where prescribed burns are taking place.

Forest Service employees working on controlled burns

Forest Service employees working on controlled burns

Prescribed or controlled burns help prevent wildfires, reduce the intensity of these fires, and provide a foundation for safer, more effective fire suppression and protection operations, according to Greg McLaughlin, Chief of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. The Forest Fire Service can protect property, lives and infrastructure by creating defensible space and strategic fire breaks near developed areas, he added.

Prescribed burns, also known as controlled burns, generally are conducted during late winter months to reduce the amount of smoke produced and because weather conditions tend to be more predictable for safer controlled fires. They can help keep forest ecosystems healthy by improving wildlife habitats, managing competing species of plants and trees, controlling insects and disease, and recycling important nutrients into the soil.

During prescribed burns, Forest Fire Service personnel use handheld torches to set smaller fires to burn away fallen leaves, pine needles, fallen branches and other debris on the forest floor. Personnel consider wind, moisture and other conditions in setting the fires, which influence a burn’s intensity and severity to accomplish various resource and ecological objectives such as hazard fuel reduction and habitat management.