First Phase of Restoring Ossipee Pine Barrens to Begin

Contributed by The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is preparing to begin the first phase of management to restore and maintain a globally rare habitat in the Ossipee Pine Barrens. The work will likely begin this fall with mechanical treatments of pitch pine and scrub oak near East Shore Drive to reduce fuel loads and help ecological management.

Ultimately the Conservancy will use carefully prescribed burns in this pine barrens ecosystem that has depended upon fire for its maintenance and regeneration for thousands of years. In the coming years prescribed burns will be conducted by trained Conservancy staff, local and state firefighters, the White Mountain National Forest and other organizations.

The Conservancy will hold an informational meeting on the restoration and management efforts on Thursday, November 4th, at 7 PM at the Madison Library. The meeting will cover an overview of restoration efforts — including mechanical treatments and prescribed burns — and scientific projects to understand fuel loads and biodiversity.

The Conservancy has undertaken a thorough review of fuels present in the Ossipee Pine Barrens (such as twigs and limbs, anything that can burn) to better understand how fire might react and how to manage different parts of the property.

Due to improved fire suppression capabilities and changing land use patterns, fire has been virtually eliminated from the Ossipee Pine Barrens. The last fire in the area was in 1957 when several hundred acres burned north of Ossipee Lake Road. The lack of fire since then has enabled fire-intolerant species (like white pine and some hardwoods) to gain a foothold, while pitch pine and scrub oak have declined. At the same time, the lack of fire has led to an accumulation of leaf litter, branches and limbs, which has drastically increased the possibility of a difficult to control fire.

Mechanical treatment will improve the Ossipee Pine Barrens habitat and reduce fuel loads before prescribed burns are implemented. To learn more, the Nature Conservancy invites you to the November 4th meeting in Madison, or click here to view a brochure of the program.10.18.04

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