Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) announces that their prescribed fire program will begin in January. Prescribed fires are used as a management tool to reduce wildfire risks and improve wildlife habitats. The Blackwater fire crew, assisted by Maryland Department of Natural Resources, will be burning designated areas of marshlands, woodlands, and agricultural fields during the next five months on Blackwater NWR, Fishing Bay WMA, and small areas of nearby private land. The objectives are public safety, habitat improvement, reduction of hazardous fuels, and control of exotic and invasive species. Priority areas to be burned are near private residences and property adjacent to eagle nests, Delmarva fox squirrel habitat, and safety zones along public highways. Agricultural field burns are done to facilitate the farming and moist soil impoundment management program. Several small grassland areas will also be burned to control woody plants and maintain the fields in grassland habitat.
All prescribed fires will be coordinated through the Dorchester County Fire Control and the Maryland Forest Service. Local residents who see fires and smoke associated with the refuge’s prescribed burns can be assured that these burns are being conducted in a manner to minimize impacts to the environment and ensure public and firefighter safety. If all prescriptive parameters within the fire plan are not met, such as wind, relative humidity, temperature, weather, and fuel conditions, the fire will not be started.
Local residents should continue to use caution when conducting prescribed fire activities. Maryland DNR should be contacted for burning permits and the Dorchester County 911 Center notified prior to implementing any prescribed fires. Protecting life and property and maintaining firefighter safety are the number one objectives during any wildland fire event. To assist the refuge in preventing arson fires and prevent any unwanted damages from wildfires please report any suspicious activities or individuals seen starting fire on or around the refuge.
To report a fire on or around the refuge please contact the local 911 center and the refuge at 410-228-2692.