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Posted Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

The State Forest Fire Service plans to do some prescribed or controlled burns in wooded areas in Harding, Mendham Township and Washington Township today as part of its regular program to reduce undergrowth and other forest floor materials that have the potential to fuel wildfires.

Included is a section of the Great Swamp National Wildlife refuge in southern Morris County.

State Forest Service Doing Controlled Burns at Great Swamp and in Mendham and Washington Twps.

The Fire Service, which is a branch of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, has targeted the following 271 acres of forest, marsh and grassland for burns.

A-5 Morris Harding Twp Great Swamp NWR 150 ac./marsh Federal
A-5 Morris Mendham Twp Lewis Morris Park 89 ac./forest County
A-6 Morris Washington, Township Wiess, Ethos Health Center 32 ac./grass Private

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.

Conducting a controlled burn. (Photo/Ken Badger)

Conducting a controlled burn. (Photo/Ken Badger)

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 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.

Controlled burns have been done in Morris County at several county and/or state park locations in Chester Township, Jefferson Township and Rockaway Township over the past two weeks.