Forest burning commended

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is initiating a prescribed burn program on state game lands in Logan Township that will likely generate concern when smoke starts rising.

Southwest Region Assistant Regional Forester Neil Itle recently detailed plans to set fire sometime this fall to 78 acres of State Game Land 267. Scheduling is based on weather and site conditions.

The commission also plans to conduct seven additional controlled burns next spring and summer on additional game lands acreage.

“The scrub oak-dominated portion of this game lands is quite old, declining in vigor and is slowly being replaced with less desirable trees and shrubs like red maple, birch, sassafras, black gum and mountain laurel,” Itle said. “Through the use of prescribed fire, the Game Commission is able to promote diverse plant communities, provide food and protective cover as well as create nesting areas for numerous wildlife species.”

The Southwest Region has a history of using fire to enhance the habitat of game lands, a practice long recognized as an effective conservation measure. Because of that, we expect the commission will exercise the necessary care and precautions to conduct and control the burn. And, we commend the agency for recognizing the need to do it and the benefits to be gained.

We also commend Itle for announcing the commission’s plans and explaining the reasons for it. Such efforts will help alleviate undue public concern likely to ignite when smoke begins rising from ridges above Altoona.