DEEP to Conduct Controlled Burn in Tunxis State Forest
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Forestry Division announced plans to implement a prescribed fire across 18 acres of field within Tunxis State Forest in West Hartland on Monday, April 23, 2018 during the late morning/midday, weather-pending. The field is located at approximately 389 Center Street (State Route 20).
The purpose of the burn is to maintain the native “warm season” grasses present in the field and to help kill competition by woody stems that are beginning encroachment as part of natural vegetative succession. Grasslands are recognized as critical habitats for a number of wildlife species, most notably migratory birds such as the Meadowlark, a State Threatened Species, Bobolink, and Savannah Sparrow, all of which are listed State Species of Special Concern in Connecticut.
Early successional habitat is the most lacking stage in Connecticut at present. Most of the state has older forest estimated at 90-130 years of age, or is otherwise developed. Very young forest is lacking and grassland is even more limited, as most abandoned farmland is either developed or allowed to revert to forest.
Fire is one tool that can effectively maintain this habitat, without having to use chemical control of invading plants. It also returns nutrients to the soil and encourages the native grass species to flourish and return immediately and densely.
Bobolinks are historically known to use this field and are expected to return in May, therefore the fire must be carried out in early spring before grassland birds begin to return.
The controlled burn is being led by the DEEP Forestry Division, with assistance by other fire-trained personnel in the Wildlife Division, DEEP Support Services, and State Parks.
For questions, contact the DEEP Forester, David Irvin, at the Pleasant Valley Field Office, 860-379-7085.