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Habitat Management

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Controlled Burning

Controlled burns map image

2017 Winter/Spring Burn Locations:  Controlled burning rejuvenates wildlife habitat and improves hunting opportunity. The Game Commission will be conducting controlled burns in some areas. Controlled burning rejuvenates wildlife habitat and improves hunting opportunity. The Game Commission will be conducting controlled burns February through May. Game land users should be aware of signs placed near potential burn areas. 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 wildlife coming in to fresh burns (even before the smoke clears) so wildlife watchers and spring turkey hunters should key in on these areas. View a map of scheduled controlled burns.

Controlled Burning to Improve Hunting Opportunity Controlled 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? Controlled burns are conducted under very specific weather and "fuel" conditions ensuring burns are low to moderate intensity (fuel refers to the dried leaves, grasses, and brush that are consumed in the burn). Additionally, controlled burns are normally repeated every 3 to 10 years, preventing fuels from building to dangerous levels. In this way, controlled burns also reduce the risk of unplanned wildfires. Controlled 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 burn lines to ensure safety, both for themselves and the public.

Is Wildlife Harmed? Controlled burn ignition patterns provide wildlife escape routes as the burn progresses. Burning during the right 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 controlled burning occurs in spring, we often hear concerns over impacts to ground nesting birds like turkeys and grouse. Controlled 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 controlled burns in the Game Commission blog, this 40-minute webinar on Fire's Role in the Pennsylvania Ecosystem, or by visiting the PA Prescribed Fire Council's website or Facebook page.

2018 Burn Window Status

Updated 5/8/2018

SGL 80 - Cardinal Units - Lebanon County, Swatara Township - 103 acres
Anticipated Burn Window:  December 22, 2017 - June 1, 2018. Completed 3/5/2018.

SGL 106 - Bear Flats Unit - Berks County, Windsor and Albany Townships and Schuylkill County, West Brunswick Townships - 274 acres
Anticipated Burn Window: December 22, 2017 - June 1, 2018. Completed 4/22/2018.

SGL 210 – Stone Cabin Burn Unit - Dauphin County - Jefferson Township
Anticipated Burn Window: December 22, 2017 – June 1, 2018. Completed 4/9/2018

SGL 211 – Sharp Mountain West - Dauphin County, Middle Paxton Township
Anticipated Burn Window: December 22, 2017 – June 1, 2018. Completed 4/23/2018.

SGL 43 - Laurel Road Unit Four - Chester County - East and West Nantmeal Townships - Berks County - Caernarvon & Robeson Townships - 36 Acres
Anticipated burn window is December 22, 2017 - June 1, 2018.

SGL 46 - Black Oak Burn Unit - Lancaster County - Clay Township - 86 Acres
Anticipated burn window is December 22, 2017 - June 1, 2018.

SGL 46 - Eldres Run East and West Burn Units - Lancaster County - Clay Township - 158 Acres
Anticipated burn window is December 22, 2017 - June 1, 2018.

SGL 106 - Hawk Hill Burn Unit - Berks and Schuylkill Counties - Albany, Windsor and West Brunswick Townships - 339 Acres
Anticipated burn window is December 22, 2017 - June 1, 2018.

SGL 110 - Wooden Bridge Burn Unit - Berks County - Tilden Township - 97 Acres
Anticipated burn window is December 22, 2017- June 1, 2018

SGL 210 – Powells Creek Burn Unit - Dauphin County - Jefferson Township - 115 Acres
Anticipated Burn Window: December 22, 2017 – June 1, 2018.

SGL 210 – Greenland East Burn Unit Three - Dauphin County - Jefferson Township - 98 Acres
Anticipated Burn Window: December 22, 2017 – June 1, 2018.

SGL 211 – Third Mountain Unit - Dauphin County, Middle Paxton Township – 220 acres
Anticipated Burn Window: December 22, 2017 – June 1, 2018.

SGL 211 Stone Glen Burn Unit - Dauphin County - Middle Paxton Township - 132 Acres
Anticipated burn window is December 22, 2017 - June 1, 2018.

SGL 211 Second Mountain Burn Unit - Dauphin and Lebanon Counties - East Hanover and Cold Spring Townships - 1,041 Acres
Anticipated burn window is December 22, 2017 - June 1, 2018.

SGL 211 Wood Duck Burn - Lebanon County - Cold Spring Township - 1,167 Acres
Anticipated burn window is December 22, 2017 - June 1, 2018.

SGL 257 Wildcat North Burn Unit - Schuylkill County - Walker Township - 241 Acres
Anticipated burn window is December 22, 2017 - June 1, 2018.

2018 Grassland Burn Window Status

Updated 3/16/2018

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.

Controlled Grassland Fire Planned For PA Game Commission Shenango Reservoir Area 415 In Mercer County
Current Status: Based on weather conditions and moisture in the ground and vegetation, the Burn Boss has given the go-ahead for this burn to be conducted on March 19th.