PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is planning on conducting a one-day controlled burn on part of Dutch Island.
Dutch Island is a state-owned property located in Narragansett Bay between North Kingstown and Jamestown.
The burn, which will be led by the DEM’s Divisions of Fish and Wildlife, will occur at some point within the next 30 to 45 days, though the exact date has not been decided because specific fuel and weather conditions are needed.
The DEM said while the burn is occurring, no part of Dutch Island will be fully enclosed by flames.
Controlled burns are common practice among wildlife biologists to “prevent unplanned, destructive wildfires and create a mosaic of diverse habitats for native plants and animals,” according to the DEM.
“Prescribed fire represents a versatile tool land managers can use to accomplish a variety of goals that benefit wildlife,” said Divisions of Fish and Wildlife Habitat Biologist John Veale. “When applied correctly, it can reduce invasive plant communities, promote plant species diversity, stimulate new growth, and increase understory for shelter and raising young.”
The DEM said the burn will also provide an opportunity for local wildland firefighters to train during a controlled event.
The height of the flames will be anywhere from 2 to 4 feet and will be dependent on the fuel load. The fuel load refers to the plant material in the area of the controlled burn, according to the DEM, such as grasses, shrubs, trees and dead leaves or vegetation.
The DEM said a controlled burn requires a clear day with sustained winds out of a specific direction, which is why an official date has not yet been set for this burn.
As for the animals that live on the island, the DEM said there are specific techniques that can be applied to make it safer for wildlife to temporarily leave that area.
The burn area does not include the rocky portion of the island, which houses the Dutch Island lighthouse. Dutch Island covers close to 85 acres of land and ranges from sea level to about 75 feet above, according to the DEM.
The DEM said smoke may be visible from the Jamestown Bridge during the burn, but local fire crews will work to limit the smoke and prevent it from impacting residents nearby.
The DEM will notify the public when a specific burn window has been determined.