Prescribed fire scheduled for today at Shawnee National Forest near Harrisburg, IL

Prescribed fire scheduled for today at Shawnee National Forest near Harrisburg, IL

SALINE COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - Officials with the Shawnee National Forest have planned a prescribed fire today.

The burn will take place on Friday, March 10, weather permitting. Fall marked the beginning of the forest's prescribed burn season, during which professionals plan to burn up to 10,000 acres.

Fire helps maintain healthy oak forests, according to scientists who study birds, native plants and other wildlife.

People nearby may notice smoke coming from east of Harrisburg in Saline County.

Members of the public can expect smoke to be visible in mid-afternoon and dissipate within a few hours. Smoke may be most noticeable around the community of Herod.

For public safety, portions of trails in the Stoneface, Dennison Hollow and Eagle Mountain areas may be closed today, March 10.

By bringing fire back to the forest, Shawnee National Forest hopes to:

  • 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 the oak as the dominant species in our forest.
  • Protect human property by reducing the amount of down, dead wood in the forest. that way if a wildfire happens, it would be less intense.
  • Perpetuate prairie and savannah remnants found within the forest. these remnant plant communities provide habitat for several early-successional song bird species, such as prairie warblers and red-headed woodpeckers. maintaining these open woodland conditions with prescribed fire increases biodiversity in both plant and animal species.

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