to Address Invasive Phragmites
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will conduct a controlled burn at Bog Brook Unique Area, located in the towns of Southeast and Patterson in Putnam County. The controlled burn, also called prescribed fire, will encompass 14.5 acres and is tentatively scheduled for the last two weeks in March 2016, depending on weather conditions. The burn will continue DEC’s comprehensive efforts to restore the area’s unique native wetland communities and wildlife habitat.
When acquired in 1981, Bog Brook contained one of the State’s best examples of a rich graminoid fen, a unique type of wetland. Over the years, the habitat has been gradually degraded by an expanding infestation of common reed (Phragmites australis), an invasive, non-native plant species that readily colonizes wetland communities. When Phragmites becomes dominant in a wetland, it displaces native plant species, slowly converting habitat to a single plant type. This creates poorer habitat for many native wildlife species including secretive marsh birds, turtles and waterfowl.
The controlled burn will remove dead Phragmites biomass, allowing sunlight to reach the marsh’s surface and promoting the germination of native plant species seeds now lying dormant. DEC will monitor the recovery of the area’s vegetation and, if necessary, supplement natural regrowth with native planting.
In addition to habitat benefits, the controlled burn should improve access to the wetland for hunters, trappers, bird watchers and wildlife photographers.
Controlled burns have been used nationwide as a land management tool for more than 40 years. By decreasing the buildup of overgrown vegetation, dead wood and other wildland fuel, they also limit the potential for wildfires.
The upcoming activity will be supervised by NYS Forest Rangers working closely with meteorologists and other scientists to determine when conditions, including moisture levels and wind, are appropriate. The Bog Brook Unique Area has undergone four controlled burns in the last decade to address the Phragmites infestation. DEC will notify local municipal leaders, including the local fire department, once conditions allow a specific date to be scheduled.
To receive additional information about the controlled burn or public use of Bog Brook Unique Area, contact DEC’s Region 3 Bureau of Wildlife at (845) 256-3047.