The Seven Summits Hike for Nepal is at Oak Mountain State Park on June 6.
Alabama State Parks will have prescribed burns at two locations in Oak Mountain State Park in February/ March of this year. A prescribed burn is controlled and planned, and these burns are used to manage growth.
The burns at Oak Mountain State Park will take place in the longleaf pine tree zones by the upper fishing lakes and adjacent to the park’s campground. During the burns, steps will be taken to manage smoke and maintain safety in surrounding areas, according to a press release from the Alabama State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The Alabama Forestry Commission and Pelham Fire Departments will also be notified and on standby in case they are needed.
The burns at OMSP are aimed at enhancing the “stand,” or contiguous area of longleaf pines in the park. The burns will control understory vegetation growing beneath the canopy of the trees such as maple, gum, hickory and oak, and there are future plans to remove mature oak trees within these areas “to reduce competition within the stands,” according to the release.
“An ongoing 10-year study of longleaf pine ecosystems conducted by Dr. Scot Duncan of Birmingham-Southern College recommends controlled burns to help keep these areas open to sunlight and to stimulate the growth of beneficial understory plants,” said Forrest Bailey, Natural Resources Chief for Alabama State Parks. “The State Parks Division feels that if hardwood competition is allowed to grow unchecked, both longleaf locations will be lost and that a valuable, historical plant community will become more degraded if no action is taken.”
The longleaf management program at Oak Mountain is a partnership between Alabama State Parks and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) of Alabama. TNC will provide trained personnel, ATV equipment and logistics expertise to assist with the controlled burns.
“Alabama’s state parks contain a wealth of unique and important biodiversity, as well as provide important places for people to enjoy the great outdoors,” said Keith Tassin, TNC Terrestrial Conservation Director. “Periodic fire shaped Alabama’s ecosystems and is critical to their restoration and maintenance. This is the first step in restoring the mountain longleaf pine ecosystem that once covered much of the park.”