(VIDEO) Beneficial burn: Chippewa National Forest conducts prescribed burns on Oak Point
CASS LAKE -- Smoke plumes could be seen from long distances Wednesday as the Chippewa National Forest conducted prescribed burns on Oak Point on Leech Lake.
It was the third and final controlled burn for the area, which covered about 470 acres, with about 225 acres of the burn occurring Wednesday.
“The reason we’re burning is to reduce hazardous fuels,” said Mike Rice, zone fire management officer, who was in the area of the fire. “In the event that we did have a wildfire out here it would be easier for us to control.”
Residents and landowners on Oak Point received a letter from the Forest Service in early May alerting them to the burns.
According to the letter, the burns only consume fuels on the forest floor and leave scorch marks on some trees. Shrubs, forbs and grasses quickly green-up following the burn, but some trees will die, which is what the Forest Service wants.
The burns are also beneficial to wildlife in the area. Since they are slow-moving surface fires, animals have plenty of time to move and seek refuge from the fire, which will improve their habitat, according to the Forest Service.
“In addition we’re trying to promote some of the oak and pine characteristics that are out here on Oak Point and prescribed fire is one of the management tools that we do that with,” Rice said.
If a prescribed burn were to get out of control, which the Forest Service said is unlikely in their letter, numerous other contingency resources are identified beforehand to assist if needed, which includes aircraft.