Blackwater Wildlife Refuge Controlled Burns Under Way - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Blackwater Wildlife Refuge Controlled Burns Under Way

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

DORCHESTER COUNTY, Md.- A total of 35 acres of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge went up in flames Friday during a controlled burn.

"It's been proven that burning the marshes really invigorates the health of the marsh and improves the quality of the actual marsh grass, the growth," said Wildfire Zone Manager Art Canterbury. "It's just giving us a chance to hold on to the marshes here at the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge as long as we can, as we are dealing with different things such as sea level rise and the nature of the climate we are dealing with now."

Canterbury said habitat improvement is vital, but torching the marshes is also good for eliminating any chance of a wildfire.

"The first objective is the hazard fuels burn so we are reducing hazard fuels to eliminate the potential for unwanted or uncontrolled wildfire," he said.

Dressed in protective suits, Canterbury and other professionals walked around and ignited the marsh with drip torches. Friday was burn number one, but they still have 11,000 acres left.  

"Big picture though this year we are going to try and burn anywhere from about 10,000-11,000 here of the Blackwater Refuge and the fish and bay state marshes which are adjacent to us," Canterbury said.

These are intentionally set fires, to prevent ones from starting accidentally. Controlled burns will continue at the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge in designated areas through May.

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