INDIANA (WEHT) – The USDA Forest Service plans to conduct seasonal prescribed burning in late winter, early spring and fall on some Indiana forests to maintain, restore or improve ecosystems.

The forest service says about 9,000 acres of National Forest System lands are planned to be burned off through agreements with private landowners in the following counties: Crawford, Jackson, Lawrence, Orange and Perry. Officials say the 9,000 acres to be burned consist of both public land managed by Hoosier National Forest and a small amount of adjacent private land who’s owners signed agreements for their property. 

The forest service says records show that throughout history fire played a vital and necessary role in sustaining the eastern deciduous forest ecosystem. Officials note that prescribed burning also reduces the amount of woody material on the forest floor, thereby lowering the risk of catastrophic wildfire, and diversifies the understory plant community. 

Officials say designated burn areas are marked with signs and are closed to the public on the day of the burn and until the area is considered safe. Officials say burning may affect access to hunting areas, and if smoke is present on roadways, drivers should slow down and turn on their headlights.

Officials ask for people to please contact the Indiana Interagency Coordination Center Dispatcher at 812-547-9262 if they plan to hunt or camp in or near the burn areas. Maps of potential burn areas can be found here.