The New Jersey State Forest Fire Service seasonal prescribed burning program is under way in Morris County, Northwest Jersey and throughout the state. The annual program reduces wildfire risk by burning the buildup of potential fuels such as undergrowth, leaves, branches and pine needles on forest floors.
Forest Fire Service personnel use best management practices 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 reminded to use caution when approaching areas where prescribed burns are taking place, to observe posted reduced speed limits and to be alert to the presence of trucks and Forest Fire Service personnel.
“Since 1906, the Forest Fire Service has protected property, lives and infrastructure by creating defensible space and strategic fire breaks near developed areas,” said Greg McLaughlin, Acting Chief of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. “These prescribed burns help prevent wildfires, reduce the intensity of these fires, and provide a foundation for safer, more effective fire suppression and protection operations.”
In 2017, the Forest Fire Service responded to 753 wildfires, 74 percent of which were a quarter acre or smaller. The largest was a 3,477-acre fire in Wharton State Forest, Burlington County.
This season, the Forest Fire Service expects to conduct prescribed burns on approximately 30,000 acres. Most burns will occur on state-owned property such as state forests, parks and wildlife management areas, and other government lands. The service also will place increased focus on assisting private landowners and nonprofit organizations mitigate wildfire risk.
Prescribed burns, also known as controlled burns, will continue through the end of March, weather conditions permitting. The burns help reduce forest fire risk before prime wildfire season, which typically begins in early spring when fallen leaves, branches and twigs are abundant.
The State Forest Fire Service provides public notice regarding areas where prescribed burns are to take place. Sign up for text or email notifications of prescribed burns. The New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry also provides notice through its Facebook page.
To learn more about wildfires in New Jersey, steps to protect property, and other resources, visit: www.njwildfire.org