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COURT HOUSE - Personnel from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in assistance with interagency partners, are scheduled to conduct a prescribed burn on Cape May National Wildlife Refuge land between Jan. 21-23, depending on weather and site conditions. 

According to a release, the burn will occur on the Reed's Beach portion of the refuge, located off of Route 47 and Reed's Beach Road. Other prescribed burns may occur on fields in Green Creek and Rio Grande later in the spring. 

Prescribed burns are conducted under Cape May National Wildlife Refuge’s Prescribed Fire Plan, which describes the objectives of and conditions under which a prescribed burn may be implemented, updated and approved by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials annually as needed. The burn's goals are to reduce hazardous fuels and to conduct research on a marsh restoration project. 

Cape May National Wildlife Refuge will only burn under favorable weather conditions to keep the fire manageable and minimize smoke in the local community. Because burning is weather dependent, it is difficult to provide significant advanced notice of when the burns will occur. However, appropriate state and county agencies will be notified in advance of the burns. 

Residents and visitors may smell or see smoke in the area. Because human safety is the number one priority during prescribed burning, personnel will monitor the roads and direct traffic as needed.

Prescribed burning is an appropriate and effective tool to manage wildlife habitat. Fire helps control undesirable exotic plants, maintains habitat for nesting birds and small mammals, promotes native plants, reduces the accumulation of organic debris, and releases nutrients back into the soil. 

Prescribed burns also support Cape May National Wildlife Refuge’s role in conducting research by allowing scientists to study the effect of fire on the marsh and field ecosystems and to conduct elevation surveys of the marsh soil.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The prescribed burns will be done under this mission. 

The vast lands that make up the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System provide not only habitats for wildlife, but provide opportunities for people to enjoy wildlife-related recreational activities, such as wildlife photography, bird watching, hunting, fishing and interpretive and educational programs. Refuge staff hope that people in the Cape May area will be able to learn more about prescribed burns and their relationship to the establishment of healthy wildlife habitat, and that the public will also visit and enjoy the recreational and educational activities of the Refuge.

For additional information regarding Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, visit https://www.fws.gov/refuge/cape_may/.

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