DIGITAL ORIGINAL: Controlled burn in Perry County forest

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ICKESBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — If you saw smoke over the mountains in Ickesburg today, don’t be alarmed. The Pennsylvania Game Commission held a controlled burn of around 90 acres of land in Perry County on Nov. 5 and 6.

A controlled burn is a precise process. Weather conditions on and around the day of the burn are considered, the land is prepared so the fire doesn’t get out of hand, and even the smoke clouds during the burn are monitored, explains Brent McNeal. He is the assistant regional forester for the Southcentral Region of the Pennsylvania Game Commission as well as a type 2 burn boss.

Although a controlled burn may look similar to a wildfire from a distance, McNeal explains that wildfires are much more…well, wild. The location and intensity of a wildfire are much less intentional than those of a controlled burn.

The purpose of today’s controlled burn in Ickesburg was to eliminate unwanted plants so native grasses and trees like scrub oaks and pitch pines can thrive, says McNeal. Pitch pines also benefit from the fires in another way — their serotinous cones can only release seeds after being burned.

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