Here in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, fall also signals the return of migrating birds and school groups to the Discovery Center and, importantly, opportunities for controlled burns.
Fire is an essential part of the globally-rare, pitch pine-scrub oak barrens that defines the Albany Pine Bush Preserve and supports 64 rare species of wildlife. Without fire, leaves, sticks, and other organic material would gradually accumulate and cover the sandy soils of the Pine Bush. As a result, sand-loving plants like pitch pines, scrub oaks, and wild blue lupine – and the animals that depend on them – would no longer be able to survive here. Accumulating organic matter also increases the risk of dangerous, unplanned wildfires.
At the Pine Bush Preserve, a team of trained fire managers use careful planning and special equipment to set controlled or prescribed fires. These fires expose the sandy soils, prevent dangerous fuel accumulation, release nutrients that stimulate new growth of fire-tolerant plants, and even cause seeds of certain plants to germinate. Since 1991 nearly 2,000 acres have been managed with prescribed fire; safely consuming wildland fuels, reducing wildfire risk and benefiting the conservation of this fire-dependent ecosystem.
With wildfires devastating western parts of the country, and National Fire Prevention Week less than two weeks away, it’s an important time to reflect not only on the dangers out-of-control fires, but also on the role that fires can play in keeping us healthy and safe.
Come enjoy Smokey Bear Day at the Discovery Center on October 12th to participate in fire-themed activities and learn about fire safety with Smokey himself!
To learn more about controlled burns at the Preserve, follow the link below.