The Alaska Department of Fish & Game in partnership with State Forestry is planning to burn the Gerstle and Panoramic fields in spring 2018. The burn operation will occur approximately ½ mile south of the Alaska Highway between mile 1408 and 1393, intermittently during the month of May. There may be smoke visible from the highway. Prescribed fire was designated as a management tool for the Delta Junction Bison Range in the 1979 legislation establishing the range and in the 2012 Interim Management Plan. Burning has been conducted in the fields over the past decades and used infrequently in recent years.
The intent of using prescribed fire is to enhance habitat for bison, moose and grouse. It is not intended to increase herd size. With improved graminoid production in the fields, bison may be more attracted to this area in fall and winter, yielding a benefit to both hunters and farmers. While bison and moose will benefit from improved forage availability, sharp-tailed grouse are also expected to benefit as the burns will regenerate aspen in patches of the cleared fields.
As demonstrated in 2017, we expect that prescribed fire will yield an uneven burn across the fields and the forested rows. The residual forested rows are likely to result in high density aspen stands. ADF&G intends to continue the use of prescribed fire in the DJBR over time. Future plans include burning the aspen stand in the western half of Gerstle, and parts of the large spruce stands within the field complexes.
Consistent with the Delta Bison Interim Management plan, this project serves to balance conservation of bison and hunting interest with local agricultural land use. It is paid for by a Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration award funded through the Pittman-Robertson Act and matched by State dollars.
Project Coordinator Sue Rodman | (907) 267-2274 desk | (907) 317-7236 cell | firstname.lastname@example.org