Starting Sept. 24, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will be conducting controlled burns for habitat restoration on two wildlife areas in the South Puget Sound region.
The burns are scheduled through mid-October at the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area northeast of Rochester and the West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area northwest of Tenino.
Darric Lowery, WDFW wildlife area manager, said the burns are weather dependent, and will be conducted for one to three days in each area. The areas targeted for burning are small, varying in size from one to 10 acres.
“Portions of the wildlife areas may be closed during the burns, and people may see smoke from the fires for one to two hours after the burns,” Lowery said. “We will be working to minimize smoke impacts to homes and the surrounding community.”
WDFW is working cooperatively with Washington Department of Natural Resources, fire districts, and other partners, utilizing professional fire crews experienced with successfully conducting controlled burns on public and private lands in the region.
Lowery said the department uses prescribed fire to maintain native grassland habitats, also known as prairies, and control invasive weeds before seeding and planting native species.
Coastal prairies are one of the rarest ecosystems in Washington, now reduced to less than 3 percent of their former area. They support a large number of rare plants and animals, including birds, animals, and butterflies, some of which are listed as threatened or endangered species.