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For Release: Tuesday, May 11, 2021

DEC to Conduct Controlled Burns at Louise E. Keir Wildlife Management Area

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today that it will conduct controlled burns this week at the Louise E. Keir Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in the town of Coeymans, Albany County. The controlled burns will help re-establish native vegetation and wildlife in the area. Also called prescribed burns, the controlled burns will encompass up to 20 acres and take place in spring, late summer, and/or early fall, depending on weather conditions.

The Louise E. Keir WMA provides habitat to a pitch pine-oak-heath rocky summit community, a rare and significant natural community in New York State. Remnants of this fire-dependent community are located at the highest elevations of the WMA and consist of a mix of pitch pine, oak, and blueberry. The prescribed burns will help to restore, improve, and maintain the health of the pitch pine-oak-heath rocky summit by reintroducing fire to this fire-dependent community.

Historically, fire played an important role in shaping and maintaining this community. Exclusion of fire from this landscape has resulted in significant degradation of the pitch pine-oak-heath rocky summit woodlands by allowing the growth of species that are undesirable to this community, such as white pine and red maple.

The safe and controlled reintroduction of fire into this ecological system is part of a suite of management actions designed to improve forest health and habitat for native wildlife species. The controlled burn will also result in the reduction of fuels at the WMA, such as brush and other vegetation, which will decrease the threat of wildfires in the area and surrounding communities. Because the controlled burns will benefit the habitat of native wildlife species, opportunities for wildlife-based recreation, such as hunting, bird watching, and wildlife photography, will be enhanced.

The controlled burns will be supervised by DEC Forest Rangers, one of whom is a National Wildfire Coordinating Group-certified burn boss. DEC will also be assisted by the fire management specialist with local fire departments and the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission, which conducts extensive prescribed burns in the densely populated Albany suburbs. The burn crew will work closely with meteorologists and other scientists to determine when weather conditions are appropriate to conduct the burns.

In addition, DEC will notify local residents about the plan for controlled burns by means of a postcard mailing and inform municipal officials and local fire departments when conditions allow for specific dates to be scheduled for the burns.

To receive additional information about the controlled burns, contact DEC's Region 4 Young Forest Initiative Biologist Selinda Brandon at (607) 652-2302. For information about public use of Louise E. Keir WMA, contact DEC's Region 4 Bureau of Wildlife at (518) 357-2154.

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