Friday, October 30, 2009

Ogden and Farmington Bays scheduled for Burns during Fall Months

This fall, as weather conditions permit, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) will burn phragmites at both the Ogden Bay and Farmington Bay waterfowl management areas (WMAs). To ensure hunters' safety, the DWR will temporarily close these areas during a burn. Hunters have asked many questions about the burns and closures:

What is phragmites?

Phragmites (pronounced frag-mite-ees) is an invasive plant that can reach heights of 13–15 feet. It spreads rapidly, forming dense thickets that outcompete native plants and wildlife in Utah's marshes. Areas with phragmites are inhospitable to water birds and practically inaccessible to hunters. The DWR has used a combination of herbicides and follow-up burns to remove thousands of acres of phragmites over the past few years.

Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

Why is the DWR planning to burn phragmites during the waterfowl hunt?

Weather conditions — including temperature, wind speed/direction, air quality and other factors — have to be exactly right before the DWR can burn phragmites. Those conditions did not occur in the spring or summer of 2009. There are now approximately 4,000 acres of herbicide-treated phragmites that have not yet been burned. If the weather cooperates this fall, the DWR needs to burn these treated areas.

Where and when will the burns occur?

Burns may occur in parts of two WMAs: Farmington Bay and Ogden Bay. Because burns are weather-dependent, the DWR cannot schedule them months or weeks in advance. DWR habitat crews usually have only 12 hours' notice before a burn is authorized. The DWR hopes to complete a total of three or four burns between early October and early December. Burns will only occur on weekdays.

How long will the WMAs be closed?

DWR personnel will lock the WMA gates the night before a burn occurs. The WMA will likely remain closed throughout the following day. Fire safety officials will monitor the area and let the DWR know when it is safe to reopen.

How will hunters know about WMA closures?

To notify hunters about an impending burn, DWR personnel will:

*Hang informative banners on the locked WMA gates
*Send e-mails to hunters
*Post a notice at the top of this Web page
*Post notices on Twitter (at  )
*Alert the media
*Closures will be temporary — probably a day or two at most — and may not affect the entire WMA.

How will these burns affect hunting on the WMAs?

Hunting will improve significantly. Within two or three weeks, waterfowl will flock to the burned areas in large numbers. Hunters will need to be careful, however, because newly burned phragmites remnants are very sharp. Within a year or so, these remnants will disappear and be replaced by pockets of open water and native marsh plants. DWR employees have seen vast improvements in areas that were burned a few years ago.

In-depth information
Invasive and noxious weed control: How the Utah DWR is working to control noxious weeds on Utah's Waterfowl Management Areas.

No comments:

Post a Comment