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Long Island Pine Barrens managers plan for controlled burns of 100 acres this year

Polly Weigand / Central Pine Barrens Commission

Land managers for the Long Island Pine Barrens plan to burn about 100 acres of forest this year. 

The controlled fires will eliminate pests like the southern pine beetle.  They will also reduce the risk of out-of-control wildfires.

Polly Weigand with the Central Pine Barrens Commission said fire is essential for the pine barrens ecosystem to thrive.

“It does a number of things. It reduces disease and pests by literally consuming them from the environment and limiting their ability to build up to a capacity that would be impactful. It also, by consuming the vegetation whether it's alive or dead, it releases the nutrients and makes them readily available to the plants,” Weigand said.

Weigand said some species like the pitch pine depend on fire to reproduce.

The fires will be overseen by firefighters and other experts. The Long Island Pine Barrens cover 100,000 acres in Suffolk County.

They’re planned for sections of the pine barrens in Middle Island, Ridge and Riverside.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.