Prescribed Fire Brings Life to the Wayne National Forest

Prescribed Fire Brings Life to the Wayne National Forest

Burn Window: Approximately Oct. 15 through Dec. 31, 2019

PEDRO, Ohio (Oct. 8, 2019) – Fire helps maintain healthy oak forests, according to scientists who study native plants, birds, and other wildlife. That’s why the Wayne National Forest uses fire as a tool to restore southern Ohio forests.

“Fire rejuvenates the forest. It increases nutrient availability, favors some plants over others, and can remove some of the leaf litter and smaller trees and brush. This lets more sunlight into the forest floor, which is important for regenerating oak trees, the dominant tree in Ohio forests, as well as many other sun-loving plants,” said Acting Ironton District Ranger Pat Mercer.

Prescribed fire is a planned fire that is overseen by professional firefighters. Fall marks the beginning of the forest’s prescribed burn season, during which professionals plan to burn up to 626 acres between Oct. 15 and Dec. 31, 2019, on the Ironton Ranger District. Areas include the following:

Pine Creek Unit F Prescribed Burn

Size: Approximately 281 acres

Location: Lawrence County, Decatur Township, in the vicinity of Howard Ridge


Pine Creek Unit G Prescribed Burn

Size: Approximately 342 acres

Location: Lawrence County, Decatur Township, in the vicinity of Howard Ridge


Fradd Hollow Prescribed Burn

Size: Approximately 3 acres

Location: Lawrence County, Lawrence Township, in the vicinity of Fradd Hollow


Prescribed fires are performed under specific weather conditions and are designed to mimic fire that historically occurred on the forest. The Wayne National Forest follows strict guidelines for conducting prescribed burns, and uses environmental factors including temperature, humidity, atmosphere stability, smoke dispersion, and wind direction and speed. If any of these conditions are not within limits, the burns will be postponed.


By bringing fire back to the forest, the Wayne National Forest hopes to accomplish these goals:

  • Encourage the growth of a diverse array of plant life, including sun-loving plants and grasses.
  • Ensure oaks remain the keystone species in our forests. Oaks provide food for about 100 different animals. Using fire to bring light into our forests helps oaks grow. Without fire, shade-tolerant species will take over and eventually replace oak as the dominant species in our forest.
  • Protect human property by reducing the amount of dead and down wood in the forest. That way if a wildfire occurs, it would be less intense, and potentially easier to control.
  • Perpetuate oak barrens and woodlands found within the forest. These remnant plant communities provide habitat for several early-successional species. Maintaining these open woodland conditions with prescribed fire increases biodiversity in both plant and animal species.


To learn more about prescribed burning on the Wayne, contact the Wayne National Forest Public Affairs Office at (740) 753-0862.


The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Its mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the country’s 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Its public lands contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year and provide 20 percent of the country’s clean water supply. For more information, visit


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