Habitat Management

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Prescribed Fire

2015 Burn Window Status

2015 Fall Burn Locations: Prescribed burning rejuvenates wildlife habitat and improves hunting opportunity. The Game Commission will be conducting prescribed burns in some areas. No burning will occur during the week of the October muzzleloader/youth/deer season or after November 20th. While access to the specific burn area will be closed on burn day, access will be re-opened soon after the burn, usually the next day. We often see deer and turkeys coming into fresh burns (even before the smoke clears). Hunters should key in on these areas. This map informs the public of prescribed burns coming up in the fall of 2015.

Prescribed Burning to Improve Hunting Opportunity Prescribed burning improves wildlife habitat and hunting opportunity by: increasing soft mast production in shrubs like blueberry, huckleberry, and blackberry, rejuvenating succulent browse plants preferred by deer and elk, promoting oak habitats and their vitally important acorns, and maintaining grasses and broadleaf plants sought by brooding turkeys and grouse.

Is Burning the Woods Safe? Prescribed burns are conducted under very specific weather and "fuel" conditions ensuring fires are low to moderate intensity (fuel refers to the dried leaves, grasses, and brush that are consumed in the fire). Additionally, prescribed burns are normally repeated every 3 to 10 years, preventing fuels from building to dangerous levels. In this way, prescribed burns also reduce the risk of unplanned wild fires. Prescribed burns are conducted by highly trained crews with hundreds of hours of training and experience. Long before burn day, crews are planning operations and prepping fire lines to ensure safety, both for themselves and the public.

Is Wildlife Harmed? Prescribed burn ignition patterns provide wildlife escape routes as the burn progresses. Burning during appropriate weather conditions ensures spread rates are slow and flame heights are low. From fawns to turtles, even the slowest wildlife can reach safety. Before the smoke clears animals are often seen returning to burned areas. Because peak prescribed burning occurs in spring, we often hear concerns over impacts to ground nesting birds like turkeys and grouse. Prescribed burns may disrupt a few nests; however hens often re-nest and some nests in the burn area may not be harmed. Most importantly, burns occur on a relatively small percentage (less than 10%) of the landscape. In that light, the direct impacts are quite small and benefits far outweigh potential negatives.

Learn more about prescribed fire in the Game Commission blog or by visiting the PA Prescribed Fire Council Facebook page and keep an eye out for upcoming prescribed fire updates on the Game Commission's website. 

2016 Burn Window Status

Updated 1/5/2016

A safe and effective controlled burn is very dependent on both site and weather conditions. An anticipated burn window is established between time periods when optimum site and weather conditions could be present. As more exact weather and site conditions become known, the window for the burn is narrowed.

State Game Lands 264 - Dauphin County - Wiconisco Township - Big Lick Burn - Unit 2
Current Status: Pending.
Based on weather conditions and fuel moisture, the prescribed burn may include the entire 181 acre unit or may be limited to a “blackline” burn only. The purpose of blacklining is to burn a 50 to 100 foot wide strip along the uphill firebreak. This removes leaves and sticks from the strip to create a wider firebreak in preparation of burning the entire unit.

Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Ave, Harrisburg Pennsylvania 17110-9797