Trexler Nature Preserve Combats Invasive Plant Growth with Prescribed Burning

SCHNECKSVILLE, Pa. (WPVI) – The team at Trexler Nature Preserve is committed to the health and natural growth of the park, which means fighting the growth of invasive plants to ensure wildlife can live together in harmony.

One of the main invasive species they fight against is the autumn olive tree, which is a deciduous shrub native to Asia. The autumn olive tree towers over parts of the park and smothers the native plants around it.

The best way to rid the park of this shrub is to use a technique the Pennsylvania Game Commission calls prescribed fires.

Prescribed fires are carefully executed burns that can be used to kill unwanted plants and shrubs. The whole process is carefully planned and mapped out even before the crew arrives.

Weather conditions must be perfect, temperature, wind and sunshine must be perfect.

“We’re using directed fire and our drone to ignite a 180-acre burn unit,” said William Carr, lands manager at the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Ground crews established a perimeter around their target area to contain the fire. In order to light the center safely, a pilot uses his specialized drone which drops incendiary pellets in precise targeted areas.

Carr says prescribed fires are a better alternative to traditional methods.

“To not get stuck in this endless loop of managing herbicides and mechanics, you reset the clock, so to speak, with directed fire,” he said.

Burning season in Pennsylvania generally runs from August through mid-May as long as conditions are met. These prescribed fires have been taking place for more than a decade at Trexler and Carr says they will continue due to the positive results.

In a few months, these smoldering fields will return to seas of natural, healthy green growth.

Nearby neighbors can sign up to receive alerts to know when a prescribed burn is in progress.

For more information:
Pennsylvania Gaming Commission: Prescribed Fires
Trexler Nature Reserve

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