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The Pine Bush Project:
Fire in the Pine Bush

By Taylor, student at FMS

Fire is a necessary part of the Pine Bush ecology. Controlled burning helps prevent wildfires. It also helps preserve native vegetation. Non-native plants cannot withstand the fires, and do not survive well so they won’t over populate the Pine Bush. Without fire the Pine Bush would become like any other forest in the Northeast.

Many plants have adapted to help them survive Pine Bush fires. When fires became common, plants began to adapt. The thick bark of Pitch Pine protects the trees from almost every fire except the most intense heats. Pitch Pines only open when there is fire so the seeds can come out. The Blue Lupine needs the space that the fire creates.

Before humans started lighting fires, nature sparked fires that swept through the Pine Bush. Now prescribed fires are a way of maintaining the Pine Bush. Specific weather and environmental conditions must be met before any prescribed burn happens. These burns are conducted only by well trained crews. Controlled burns will be halted if the weather is too windy, dry or wet. Officials of prescribed burns prefer humidity between 35 and 70 percent. Winds speeds should be between 2-10 miles per/hour. Safety is the most important thing in a prescribed burn. Today wildfires are uncommon in the Pine Bush.

The driest time in the Pine Bush is usually before the spring growth of leaves or after the season’s growth has ended. During the spring time or extremely dry weather conditions, the Albany Pine Bush is prone to fires. Scrub oaks, huckleberries and other vegetation become dry and flammable. The sandy soil does not retain water and the ground surface dries quickly after a rain shower.

 

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