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Prescribed Burns Planned for Delta Junction State Bison Range
— ADF&G Press Release

Sam Cotten, Commissioner
P.O. Box 115526
Juneau, Alaska 99811-5526


Press Release: April 3, 2017

Contacts: Sue Rodman, Program Coordinator, Anchorage, (907) 317-7236;
Bob Schmidt, Wildlife Biologist, Delta Junction, (907) 895-7491

Prescribed Burns Planned for Delta Junction State Bison Range

(Delta Junction) — Prescribed burns planned for the Delta Junction State Bison Range this spring aim to improve habitat for wildlife large and small. Wildlife ranging from three-quarter ton plains bison to chicken-size sharp-tailed grouse will benefit from the controlled burns to be conducted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Division of Forestry in two large fields east of Delta Junction. The burns are scheduled for the Gerstle and Panoramic fields immediately after they are snow free, likely between April 10 and early May. Burning will be based on weather conditions and availability of Forestry staff to monitor the fire. While this spring's prescribed burns on approximately 3,600 acres will benefit a variety of species, they will most importantly restore land being lost to succession and becoming less attractive to bison.

Fire allows mature conifer forests and other habitats to be replaced through succession, starting with the appearance of post-fire grasses and shrubs followed by aspen, willow and birch, and ultimately spruce forests. To provide multiple successional stages of plants and maximize benefits to wildlife, plans for the Delta bison range fire include an uneven burn over previously cleared areas ranging from grasses to mature hardwoods. Bison, sharp-tailed grouse, snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse and many other species depend on various stages of succession for food and cover.

The Delta Junction Bison Range was created by the Alaska Legislature in 1979 to perpetuate free-ranging bison. It encompasses nearly 90,000 acres north of the Granite Mountains between Granite Creek and the Little Gerstle River. Prescribed fire has been used for habitat management throughout the history of the Delta Bison Range, and is the most effective method to create and enhance forage for bison and meet the legislative mandates for the area.

Updates on plans for the prescribed burns will be forthcoming as specific dates are scheduled. For more information, check http://akfireinfo.com, or contact Sue Rodman at (907) 317-7236, sue.rodman@alaska.gov; or Bob Schmidt at (907) 895-7491, bob.schmidt@alaska.gov.