The prescribed burn season at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base officially began Nov. 1 and will continue through March 15, officials from the 88th Civil Engineer Group’s Natural Resources Program announced.
Prescribed burns are used to maintain and enhance the health of ecosystems, according to program officials. Potential fire hazards exist as a result of dead-vegetation accumulation, which can be reduced by burning areas on a 2- to 5-year rotational basis.
“For the 2021-2022 burn season, quadrants 3 and 4 of Huffman Prairie, totaling approximately 50 acres, are the primary target for prescribed fire this season,” said Darryn Warner, Natural Resources program manager.
“Last year, we hoped to add some more areas — wooded areas in which invasive-species management has been conducted, but the weather did not fully cooperate, so we are once again hopeful to be able to complete the additional areas. These new areas are wooded areas in the undeveloped areas of Wright-Patt.”
Burns also help control the spread of woody and nonnative species in habitats that can easily adapt to the local climate and take over land, he added. Consistent burning stimulates the growth of original and native species, as well as eradicates the invasive types.
“Fire is a natural management tool that releases essential nutrients back into the soil, reduces the thatch layer and aids in reducing the fuel load, which aids in controlling wildland fires,” Warner said. “Several rare species of plants and animals call WPAFB home, and as land managers, we rely on several different management methods to enhance the habitat these species utilize.”
He said very precise temperature, relative humidity, wind direction and speed, and ground-moisture conditions must be present to achieve success. Burns are typically accomplished in the fall, partly because the ground is often too wet in the spring.
Prescribed burns at Huffman Prairie
Weather forecasts are reviewed seven to 10 days out from potential burn opportunities.
· If a suitable weather window is available, an informational email will be sent to base units and organizations.
· If a suitable weather window exists five days out, another email will be sent requesting information about conflicting mission and personnel schedules, availability of resources and other pertinent details.
· If a suitable weather window exists three days out, an Air Force Civil Engineer Center burn team may mobilize, depending upon available resources and mission schedules.
· If sufficient resources are available and there are no mission-schedule conflicts, an AFCEC burn team will mobilize. Then, 24 to 36 hours prior to the actual scheduled prescribed fire, additional emails will go out to inform various units, including: WPAFB Airfield Management, the Base Weather Station, National Park Service, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, Rod & Gun Club, 88th Security Forces Squadron, WPAFB Fire & Emergency Services and 88th Civil Engineer Squadron.
· The “scheduled burn” day could arrive and a wind shift, other unexpected weather event or unscheduled mission requirement might cause the prescribed fire to be canceled. If resources are available and the weather is conducive, a prescribed burn will be planned for the next day.
· Prescribed fires can be conducted any day of the week. They will not be limited to weekdays or normal business hours. If weather and resources align, a burn may be planned.
For more information about WPAFB’s prescribed burn season, contact Warner at 937-257-4857 or firstname.lastname@example.org.