Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fire Weather Observer Training - Albany Pine Bush Preserve

The Albany Pine Bush Preserve is one of fewer than 20 inland pine barrens remaining in the world. To maintain the pine barrens environment, the Preserve is managed using controlled burning, which thins the underbrush and causes the cones of the native pitch pines to open and spill their seeds. Fire was always a natural part of this environment, and fire is now required to correctly maintain it.

For every controlled burn, the team includes a weather observer, who regularly reports various weather readings and smoke behavior to the "burn boss". With my ancient undergrad degree in meteorology, I've volunteered to take on that role this summer, probably for one or two days each month. I had my initial introductory training today, and will now wait for an email to the entire crew that says "This date's a go - are you available?"

I'll post more about this experience when I've actually participated in a burn event. We have a NWS fire watch in effect at present for extremely dry conditions, so no controlled fires will be attempted until things improve.

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