State to conduct annual prescribed burns at Creamer’s Field Thursday, May 18

The Alaska Division of Forestry & Fire Protection (DOF) will be partnering with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to conduct multiple prescribed burns at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge near Fairbanks on Thursday, May 18, weather permitting. They will begin putting in hoselays and control lines on Wednesday, May 17 to prepare for the prescribed burn.

The burn total will be approximately 35 acres on the 2,500-acre refuge, and occur in the field closest to the parking lot on Echo Acres Rd. Burning the dried grass that makes up most of the fuel now will enhance habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife that live on or visit the refuge, while also reducing the potential for wildfires later this summer when conditions are drier.

A prescribed burn gets underway in Fairbanks at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, off Echo Acres Drive in the northeast portion of the refuge.  White Mountain Crew holds the line as the burn boss directs durning the perimeter of the -36 acre field. Once a perimeter of burned area is in place, firefighters will return Thursday to burn the interior of the field. Photo/Sam Harrel DOF

“These prescribed burns are a valuable tool for habitat management,” said Nate LaShomb, a wildlife technician with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks. “Prescribed fire mimics the results of naturally occurring wildfires in a more controlled setting; the fires enhance soil quality and promote native plant diversity. Post-fire conditions benefit many species. Leaving the ecosystem in an earlier successional stage results in more nesting habitat for migratory birds and increased browse for our resident moose.”

Smoke from the fire will likely be visible throughout Fairbanks during the burn, but efforts will be made to minimize smoke impacts to the public. The refuge will remain open during the prescribed burns, but specific areas may be closed for firefighter and public safety. Signs will be posted at trailheads to alert visitors of any closed areas.

The prescribed burn also provides valuable, hands-on training for DOF’s wildland firefighters as they prepare for the upcoming wildland fire season. It takes about 12 people to light and monitor the fire, and fire managers expect the project to take one or two operational periods to complete.

“Burning the grass at Creamer’s Field helps provide our firefighters with an excellent opportunity to put their training to work in advance of the upcoming fire season,” said Fairbanks Area Fire Management Officer Gordon Amundson.

Firefighters will not start the burn if the temperature, wind speed and direction, relative humidity and other conditions exceed the parameters laid out in the burn plan. A test burn will be conducted to make sure conditions are favorable on the day the burn is scheduled.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game manages the Creamer’s Field refuge to provide habitat for migratory waterfowl and for compatible public uses including wildlife viewing, research, nature education and other forms of nonmotorized recreation.

Categories: Prescribed Fire, Training


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