Delta Junction —
State Bison Range
ADF&G continues habitat enhancement and a fuel break on the Delta Junction Bison Range — March 2020
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game in partnership with State Forestry plans to continue prescribed fire operations in the Gerstle and Panoramic fields (PDF 173 kB) (between Mile 1408 and 1393 Alaska Highway) in the coming years. Prescribed fires have been conducted in the fields in 2017, 2018, and 2019, with several burns implemented in past years as well. These burns focused on grass, brush, and tall shrubs within the cleared portions of the field complexes. The intent of using prescribed fire in this area is to enhance habitat for bison, moose, and grouse.
In 2020, ADF&G plans to start burning portions of the large spruce stands inside of the cleared margins. These four blocks of black spruce range in size from 460 acres to 1,050 acres. This winter, State Forestry roller chopped wide swaths through the spruce stands as shown on the map below and created a fuel break on state lands adjacent to the private lands on the south side of the Alaska Highway between mile posts 1402 and 1400.
To provide additional protection to homeowners along the Alaska Highway, we opened an existing trail to serve as a fuel break. This breaks up the spruce forest to give fire engines access to ensure safety during the prescribed burns, and suppression access in the event of wildfire from a natural ignition.
The prescribed burns are ignited under specific weather and wind conditions. It is a priority to limit the potential for spot fires to ignite outside of the designated units. These fuel breaks serve as a contingency line should wind direction change during the operation. Burning the spruce stands will require constant vigilance toward the wind to ensure that smoke impacts to the highway and homes are limited.
ADF&G has been using local media such as the Delta Wind, flyers in town, and the website https://akfireinfo.com/ to provide notice of when the prescribed burns are likely to start. Usually the burns we do in the cleared fields occur in late April or May. The spruce islands are likely to be burned in June. Updates will be posted locally.
State Forestry is involved in these operations annually, ADF&G coordinates closely with both State Forestry and the BLM to ensure that resources are available during these operations. Many checks are implemented before ignitions begin so that weather, firefighters, and resources are all aligned with the assigned prescription which specifies when the fire can take place.
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