Environmental, controlled burns set at arsenal

Controlled burns will be conducted at the Pine Bluff Arsenal and residents are asked not be alarmed if they see large plumes of smoke coming from the area Jan. 23 through March 8.

The Nature Conservancy’s Arkansas field office and the arsenal’s Fire and Emergency Services will be conducting multiple prescribed and controlled burns during this time.

“These burns serve as an environmental benefit, not only to reduce wildfire risk by removing fuel levels and loading from the forest floor, but also act as timber stand and wildlife habitat improvements,” a spokesman said.

All controlled burns will be handled by crews specially-trained in fire management operations.

“Prescribed and controlled burns provide for plant and animal community diversity by encouraging the regeneration of oak-hickory forest communities and associated herbaceous and shrub species adjacent to the barren communities,” the spokesman said. “Without active management, native plant species of the barrens and woodland communities at these sites will be suppressed and become out-competed by more aggressive shade-tolerant species. Many rare plant species identified at Pine Bluff Arsenal are dependent on fire to survive.