Prescribed fire planned for Long Point Wildlife Refuge

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The Trustees of Reservations is planning a prescribed fire at Long Point Wildlife Refuge in West Tisbury this spring, sometime before June 30. According to a press release, the dates of the prescribed burn will be set when weather, fuel conditions, staffing, and other circumstances allow the burn to be conducted safely.

The Trustees of Reservations coordinates the prescribed burn in conjunction with personnel from Northeast Forest and Fire Management LLC, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Bureau of Forest Fire Control, the Nature Conservancy, and Mass Audubon.

The Vineyard sandplain — the flat southern and central portion of the Island — has a centuries-long history of frequent fire, which has shaped the ecology of sandplain habitats. Fire suppression since the mid-20th century has interrupted this pattern, allowing globally important grassland and shrubland habitats to grow up into forest — threatening rare wildlife that are adapted to frequent fire. Prescribed burning uses carefully controlled fire to restore or maintain fire-dependent natural communities. Prescribed fire can also enhance public safety by reducing fuel in flammable, overgrown habitat.

Conservation groups, volunteers, landowners, and Vineyard fire departments have long cooperated in prescribed burns at Katama Airfield, Wasque, Long Point, Manuel F. Correllus State Forest, and the grasslands of Chilmark’s south shore.

Questions about prescribed fire may be directed to The Trustees of Reservations Islands Office, or visit thetrustees.org.