Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Projects
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, DNR Division of Forestry, and Bureau of Land Management are planning a prescribed fire near the Alphabet Hills to improve moose forage for the coming years. The 53,000-acre project site is in a remote area 28 miles north of Lake Louise. Ignition could take place between June 15th and September 30th, if conditions align.
While plans were progressing to implement this burn in 2021, ADF&G did not secure permits for eagle take and eagle nest take in time from the US Fish & Wildlife Service. This permit is required in fulfillment of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. It is possible that smoke from the prescribed fire would impact eagle nest sites and possibly lead to abandonment of eaglets by their parents. ADF&G conducted surveys to identify nest sites in the spring, but the permit application process requires more time than was available to ignite the project this year.
Most of the acres within the burn units are owned by the State of Alaska, however those acres within the Gulkana River corridor are owned by the Bureau of Land Management and therefore required an environmental review per the National Environmental Protection Act. That process included a public review period in May of 2021; specialists are currently reviewing comments and addressing issues. BLM hopes to issue a decision this July.
Prescribed fire stimulates plant growth to sustain moose through winter. This landscape-scale fire is expected to burn in a mosaic pattern as it moves around water features and moist vegetation. Large acreages of black spruce will produce substantial smoke and flames.
Smoke will be visible from Glennallen and surrounding communities along the Denali, Richardson and Glenn highways. Smoke may impact residents, businesses, hunters and recreational users in this area. Project updates and smoke alerts will be shared on this webpage and in local news. Upon implementation, timely updates will be posted at www.akfireinfo.com.
ADF&G is partnering with the Department of Environmental Conservation to manage smoke during this operation. We applied for and received an open burn permit for the project and will be monitoring air quality during implementation. With sensors placed in Paxson, Lake Louise, and Glennallen, reduced air quality alerts can be posted through local media in the respective community, as needed.