You might see smoke rising or trails blocked off in parts of the White Mountain National Forest over the next six weeks.
The U.S. Forest Service will be setting as many as 20 fires across the park in an effort to keep the forest healthy. Fire management officer Patrick Johnson says the fires' locations depend on what the forest needs every year.
"We’re not just going and putting fire on the ground for the fun of it,” he says. “There’s an actual objective and a reason why we’re doing all of this burning.”
He says the fires create natural clearings for wildlife to live in, and let in sunlight to help new trees grow.
And while New England has a far lower risk of intense, frequent wildfires than places out west, he says, “It also helps us to reduce the amount of dead trees, downed woody debris, to keep the fire danger down a little bit in some of those areas."
Forest fire managers will create boundaries with wet or cleared vegetation and monitor the burns to make sure they’re contained as they smolder. Some will last hours, others a few days, Johnson says.
Burns are planned in the New Hampshire towns of Albany, Benton, Bartlett, Stark, Milan, Berlin, Randolph, Gorham, Carroll and Chatham, as well as Gilead, Albany and Batchelder’s Grant in Maine.
Johnson says they’ll get through as many as they can, weather permitting, before a hard stop for a threatened species’ nesting season on May 31.