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For Release: Tuesday, March 21, 2023

DEC Announces Prescribed Fire at Ashland Flats Wildlife Management Area in Jefferson County

Prescribed Fire Will Improve Grassland Bird Habitat Within WMA

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today the agency will be conducting a prescribed burn at Ashland Flats Wildlife Management Area (WMA), in the town of Lyme, Jefferson County. Ashland Flats WMA contains 2,028 acres of primarily open meadows, second growth, and young forests east of Lake Ontario. Approximately 40 acres will be affected by this activity. The prescribed fire is weather dependent but anticipated to occur between April 1 and May 1 this year.

Prescribed burning activities are planned and overseen by DEC Forest Rangers and conducted by trained and experienced personnel in strict accordance with the provisions of a detailed burn plan and under New York State law. Careful consideration is given to environmental factors such as current and expected weather conditions and smoke management considerations in close coordination with the National Weather Service. These burn plans are executed by nationally certified burn bosses. Every burn boss in DEC is a fully credentialed and certified Forest Ranger.

Prescribed burning is an important management tool employed to achieve specific ecological goals. The burn at Ashland Flats WMA will enhance grassland bird habitat by reducing growth of woody vegetation and invigorating response of the grasses needed by these birds to thrive. The burn will be carried out on one or more weekdays during the period specified as weather permits.

While DEC makes the necessary notifications before conducting any prescribed fires, the public is encouraged to report smoke columns to local authorities. More information on wildfire prevention may be found on the FIREWISE New York webpage.

Although prescribed burns are happening across the state with multiple trained wildland firefighters on hand, the annual residential brush burn ban is in effect from March 16 to May 14. Open burning of debris is the single-largest cause of spring wildfires in New York State. When temperatures warm and the past fall's debris and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily, further fueled by winds and a lack of green vegetation. Each year, DEC Forest Rangers extinguish dozens of wildfires that burn hundreds of acres. In addition, local fire departments, many of which are staffed by volunteers, all too often have to leave their jobs and families to respond to wildfires caused by illegal debris fires. DEC will post the Fire Danger Map for the 2023 fire season on DEC's website once there is a moderate risk anywhere in New York.

Learn more about the Ashland Flats Wildlife Management Area by visiting the DEC website.

For information regarding the upcoming prescribed burn, contact DEC at

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