Prescribed burn on the Galaxy Units by Isabella

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With recent wetter weather and higher humidity levels, prescribed burning has begun on the Galaxy Units of the Superior National Forest. The Galaxy Units consist of 490 acres that are located approximately five miles east of the community of Isabella along Forest Road 172 in Lake County. 

According to Forest Supervisor Tom Hall, the reason for this particular prescribed burn is to put in a strategic fuel brake across the landscape.

“If you remember back to 2021 when the Greenwood Fire burned on the Superior National Forest, it was about 20,000 acres and so moved across the landscape,” said Hall. “And so what we’re trying to do is put strategic placement of fuel reduction out on the landscape to make sure that when fire does occur, that we are successful at suppressing the fire across that landscape. We can break it and firefighters can be successful.”

By restoring the ecological process of fire to the site, long-term objectives of this burn are to maintain, encourage, and enhance old growth red and white pine characteristics. Low to moderate-intensity surface fire beneath mature red and white pines will enhance growing conditions and protect canopy trees by reducing balsam fir or ladder fuels in the understory. Higher intensity fire in the open areas will improve and prepare the site for young regenerating pine by reducing slash and adding nutrients to the soil. 

Prescribed fire treatments create a patchwork or mosaic of fire-resistant forest stands on the landscape helping reduce the intensity of future wildfires.

“There’s actually multiple different levels that we’re looking at. First of all, what are those resource conditions? What are the fuels, the fuel conditions, which is vegetation? What is the age class for that? Does there need to be some initial treatment before you put in prescribed fire so that you’re getting the fire effects that are desirable? And so in this case, there was actually a thinning project in the Red Pine,” Hall explained. “There was some fuel reduction work. Then we came in and did a prescribed fire in order to get those fire conditions that we were looking for.”

Fire staff will use precise ignition methods to start the fires. Natural topographic features and constructed lines will be used to control and hold the fires. Hose-lays supplied by water pumps or other water delivery equipment will supplement the holding actions where needed. Fire crews will monitor the prescribed fire until it is declared out. 

For information on the prescribed fire, please contact the Tofte Ranger District Office at 218-663-8060.