Smoke filling the air in Claiborne Parish this week is from prescribed burns taking place in the Kisatchie National Forest.
Bureau of Land Management crews have been dispatched from across the country to burn 130,000 acres of the National Forest in 1000 acre blocks. The controlled burns are beneficial in eliminating undergrowth and ground debris that can serve as fuel ahead of the summer fire season. The fires also play an important role in slowing the spread of invasive plants and insects and help foster the growth of younger trees struggling to make it though the undergrowth.
"This was something that was definitely needed in order to help with the overall health of the forest," says Kistatchie National Forest District Ranger, Tonika Goins. "This prescribed burn was years in the making, we really needed it," adds Goins noting that some sections of the forest in Claiborne Parish haven't had prescribed burns in 10 to 15 years.
Bureau of Land Management Prescribed Fire Burn Boss, Derrek Hartman, based out of Boise, Idaho says cool weather and light winds have aided in the early March burns. "If the weather is too extreme obviously we don't want to burn because then we'd be putting fire all over the place."
The controlled burns will continue Thursday in Webster Parish near the Caney Lakes Recreation Area.