Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Prescribed Burn Scheduled for Tuesday in Schuylkill and Berks County

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has scheduled a prescribed burn in Schuylkill and Berks County for Tuesday.

According to the Game Commission, the prescribed burn will take place in West Brunswick Township(Schuylkill) and Albany & Windsor Townships (Berks) near the Schuylkill/Berks County line just east of Route 183.

State Game Land 106, totaling 9,435 acres, is located in northern Berks and southern 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 96% of this State Game Lands is forested and 84% of that area consists of mixed oak forests, the use of a controlled burn is very appropriate. The area to be treated is 274 acres in size and is located in Albany and Windsor Townships, Berks County and West Brunswick Township, Schuylkill County. This burn consists of three separate burn units. Burn unit 1 consists of a recent timber stand improvement and units 2 and 3 consist of a mixture of mature chestnut oak forest and recent regeneration cuts. The mature oak stand is dominated by chestnut oak with a blueberry understory. Forest fires were a common occurrence on this ridge in the early 1900’s, which led to the establishment of this oak stand. The combination of a lack of fire over the past 70 years and increased sunlight reaching the forest floor due to openings in the forest canopy, has led to a dense non-oak understory. Over the last forty years increased oak mortality due to insect defoliation has led to an increase in these openings and the lack of fire is causing the area to slowly transition to a birch-maple forest.

The goal of this controlled burn is to recreate the conditions that led to establishment of this aging oak forest and to release oak seedlings in the recent regeneration cut and timber stand improvement. Currently there is a large amount of birch, sassafras, black gum and red maple seedlings that are overtopping and shading existing oak seedlings. If this condition continues, these oak seedlings will eventually be crowded out and die. A controlled burn will suppress competition and allow the oak seedlings to grow and thrive.

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