Part of Long-term Longleaf Pine Restoration Project
 
Alabama State Parks will conduct a prescribed burn within two longleaf pine zones at Wind Creek State Park in February/March 2017, weather permitting. The burns will be conducted as part of a wildlife habitat improvement project. The burn sites include a 40-acre longleaf pine tract thinned and planted specifically for Bobwhite quail habitat and a 180-acre tract thinned and planted to increase the population of the Eastern wild turkey within the park.
 
The Alabama Forestry Commission will assist with both burns. Every precaution will be taken to ensure proper smoke management and safety.
 
The 40-acre habitat restoration project is a cooperative effort between The Covey Rise Chapter of Quail Forever, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF) and Alabama State Parks. The 180-acre habitat restoration project is a collaborative effort between the National Wild Turkey Federation, WFF and Alabama State Parks. Funding and volunteer efforts from each group have made this project possible.
 
“Land that can support a variety of healthy plant and animal species, including bobwhite quail and turkey, will serve as a model for other state parks within this region of the state,” said Forrest Bailey, State Parks Natural Resources Chief. “Alabama State Parks will continue to work with our partners to perpetuate a sustainable forest that will become a place for park visitors to learn about this unique habitat.”
 
Longleaf pine is a slow-growing, fire-tolerant species that needs fire in its life cycle in order to thrive. Prescribed fire is also a valuable tool in maintaining the integrity of a well-managed forest. When properly used, prescribed fire reduces the risk of wildfire by eliminating excess fuel on the ground and stimulating new plant growth. Additionally, thinning existing trees allows more sunlight to reach the ground, which stimulates the growth of grasses and forbs that serve as food for wild turkey, white-tailed deer, Bobwhite quail, fox squirrel, woodpecker, bluebird and many other song birds. Biodiversity is typically high within a well-managed longleaf community.
 
Historically, longleaf pine covered millions of acres across several southeastern states. Longleaf pine ecosystems thrived when controlled by naturally occurring fires. However, more than 50 years of fire suppression has degraded the health of some of these ecosystems.
 
The Alabama State Parks Division relies on visitor fees and the support of other partners like local communities to fund the majority of their operations. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.alapark.com. 
 
###