MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
Heavy smoke looms in the air from smoldering ash on the forest floor as Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s Natural Resources section begins its annual prescribed burning of base timber, Jan 11.
For the next seven months, about 700 acres are scheduled to be burned, with most of the burning taking place between January and April.
The annual prescribed burning is scheduled to be completed in July.
MCLB Albany contains about 1,400 acres of forest lands that is spread throughout industrial, administrative and residential areas.
Julie Robbins, natural resources manager, Environmental Branch, Installation and Environment Division, MCLB Albany, said prescribed fire is an integral part of the management of pine forests that are found on the installation.
“Prescribed burning improves wildlife habitat, controls underbrush and helps to reduce populations of pest species such as ticks or pine beetles,” Robbins said. “Without prescribed burning, fuel levels can build to the point where accidental or natural fires could result in property or timber damage and loss of wildlife habitat.”
Robbins noted the benefit of burning improves the growth of native plants that provide habitat for game and nongame wildlife.
“Of particular importance are rare or declining species such as gopher tortoises, honeybees, bobwhite quail and Bachman’s sparrows that are found aboard the installation,” she said. “These species require a mixture of grasses and herbaceous plants for food or nesting cover. Without periodic burning, dense brush would take over these plants and degrade habitat.”
Throughout the burning period, Natural Resources personnel will work to lessen the potential impact of prescribed burning aboard the installation, Robbins added.
“We will conduct the burns during weather conditions that minimize fire smoke and proactively reduce the amount of brush and forest debris through mowing and other management activities,” she said. “One of the challenges we face is the close proximity of some of the buildings to the forest lands.”
According to Robbins, the base Natural Resources works closely with the Dougherty County Georgia Forestry Commission Unit to monitor fire weather and safely conduct burns.
“Although smoke from the prescribed burns is unavoidable, it is recommended that individuals with breathing conditions such as asthma avoid exposure to smoke,” she said.
Additionally, Robbins asked everyone to slow down when driving through controlled burn areas, especially if heavy smoke and haze is present.