Mercer County Park Commission to conduct prescribed burns at Mercer Meadows, Baldpate Mountain

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The Mercer County Park Commission will be working with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service to perform prescribed burning at Mercer Meadows and Baldpate Mountain.

Prescribed burns will be administered to the Pole Farm and Reed Bryan Farm sections of Mercer Meadows, as well as Baldpate Mountain.

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Burns are expected to take place between now and late spring as determined by the Section Forest Fire Warden, according to information provided by Mercer County on Feb. 18. These burns will occur over a two- to three-day period.

The Section Warden will determine when the conditions fall within safe range and will notify the Park Commission and appropriate township and emergency response officials with 48 hours’ notice before the burn will begin.

The park will be closed to the public during the burns. The closure will be posted at all entrances, crossings and trail heads, as well as on the Park Commission website and social media pages.

The fire will be managed by the Forest Fire Service officials who have undergone rigorous training and are experienced in conducting safe and effective prescribed burns, according to the statement. All appropriate safety measures and precautions will be taken by those performing the burn.

While the burn is in progress and until the Section Warden has deemed the fire out, there will be law enforcement and fire personnel, equipment and vehicles present at the Pole Farm and surrounding areas, according to the statement.

Specific conditions must be met in order to burn, including temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed and direction.

Properly conducted prescribed burns encourage native seed germination, reduce invasive plant pressure, and cycle nutrients into the soil, according to the statement. Increasing habitat quality and diversity along with promoting forest regeneration, managing invasive species, and grassland establishment are all benefits from conducting prescribed burns.

While managing invasive species and promoting habitat regeneration is an important component of the burn plan for both Mercer Meadows and Baldpate Mountain, the Park Commission anticipates the burn to have additional benefits such as reducing hazardous fuel loads to prevent unplanned, higher intensity wildfires, according to the statement.

Prescribed burns have also been successful in reducing tick and insect pest populations, according to the statement.

For the days following the burn, there may be smoldering dead trees and logs within the burn areas. This activity is normal and need not be reported to the fire department or Park Commission as a fire hazard.

Park Commission staff will be on site to monitor post-burn activity.

For more information on prescribed burn plans, including frequently asked questions, maps and resources, visit www.mercercountyparks.org.

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