Friday, April 28, 2017

Prescribed Burn Scheduled for Schuylkill County on Friday

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has scheduled a prescribed burn in Schuylkill County for Friday.

According to the Game Commission, the prescribed burn will take place between 10:00am and 5:00pm in Walker Township and may be highly visible on the mountain south of Tamaqua near Wildcat Road.

State Game Land 257, totaling 3,426 acres, is located in Schuylkill County. It contains a wide variety of habitat types within its borders and is home to a multitude of different wildlife species. Since over 97% of this State Game Lands is forested and 91% of the forest is predominately oak, the use of controlled fire is very appropriate.

The area to be treated with a controlled fire totals 114 acres. In this area, there is a problem with regenerating scrub oak as well as other oak species such as scarlet, white and chestnut oak. Scrub oak provides a valuable and dependable source of acorns, as well as cover and nesting areas to many birds and mammals. Mountain laurel, red maple, blueberry and huckleberry shrubs have all created a thick layer of shade, limiting the amount of sunlight that hits the forest floor, inhibiting the oak acorns ability to sprout and regenerate.

Also, a thick layer of accumulated leaves has created an additional barrier on the forest floor, making it even more difficult for the acorn roots to become established in the soil. A controlled fire would reduce the number of competing shrubs and remove the leaf litter.

There is also a need to regenerate the pitch pine that is present on the site. Pitch pine requires fire to regenerate. Fire causes the cones to open and the seed to disperse across the burned area. Pitch pine provides both food and thermal cover to wildlife, particularly during the harsh winter months. Due to their dense crown, they are a preferred species of the saw -whet owl during their migration.

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