Prescribed burns planned at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Sanctuary in Fairbanks – AK Fire Info
Weather permitting, the Alaska Forestry Division will work in partnership with the Department of Fish and Game to perform several prescribed burns at the Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Sanctuary starting Monday, May 3.
The burns will be lit on four separate fields totaling approximately 40 acres on the 2,400 acre refuge on College Road (see attached map). Burning the dried grass that now makes up the bulk of the fuel will improve habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife that live in or visit the sanctuary, while reducing the risk of wildfires later this summer when conditions are drier.
“These prescribed burns are invaluable to the ecosystem,” said Ryan Klimstra, wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks. “The use of fire as a management tool directly improves soil quality and promotes the diversity of native plants while helping to eliminate invasive weeds. Habitat conditions after a fire will benefit many species, from microorganisms and insects to waterfowl and moose.
Smoke from the fires will likely be visible throughout Fairbanks during the fires, but efforts will be made to minimize the effects of the smoke on the public.
Prescribed burns also provide valuable hands-on training for the division’s wildland firefighters as they prepare for the next wildfire season. It takes around 12 people to start and monitor fires, and fire officials expect the project to take one or two operational periods to complete.
“Any chance we have of setting fire to the ground in a controlled environment helps us train our firefighters, both in terms of understanding fire behavior and how to conduct a controlled burn,” said Gordon Amundson, officer. Fairbanks Area Fire Management Officer. “These burns give our firefighters a chance to practice what they’ve learned and reviewed in the classroom, as well as get their hands dirty with a real real fire.”
The Department of Fisheries and Game manages the Creamer’s Field Sanctuary to provide habitat for migratory waterfowl and for compatible public uses, including wildlife viewing, research, nature education and others forms of non-motorized recreation.
The refuge will remain open during prescribed burns, but specific areas may be closed for firefighters and public safety. Signs will be posted at the start of the trails to alert visitors to any closed areas.
Fire managers have completed a burn plan that has been approved by the state departments of fish and game and environmental conservation. The forestry division has set a burn window from May 3 to 21 to complete the burns. The exact date of the burns will depend on the weather.
Firefighters will not begin the burn if the temperature, wind speed and direction, relative humidity and other conditions exceed the parameters indicated in the burn plan. A burn test will be performed to ensure conditions are favorable on the day the burn is expected.
CONTACT: Ryan Klimstra, Department of Fisheries and Game Wildlife Biologist, (907) 459-7223, firstname.lastname@example.org or Tim Mowry, Forestry Division Information Officer, (907) 356- 5512, email@example.com.
Categories: AK Fire Info