Above, the undergrowth on the side of Alabama Highway 63 smolders and burns as part of a deliberate effort to reduce “undesirable plant life.” | David D. Goodwin
Above, the undergrowth on the side of Alabama Highway 63 smolders and burns as part of a deliberate effort to reduce “undesirable plant life.” | David D. Goodwin

Archived Story

Russell Lands continues controlled burns

Published 9:43pm Thursday, March 13, 2014

The woods were aflame on the east side of Alabama Highway 63 Monday morning, but there was no need to be alarmed, as it was part of a controlled burn process ongoing on property owned by Russell Lands on Lake Martin.

The pine forest just north of Russell Crossroads was scorched Monday to “reduce fuel load on the floor,” according to Russell Lands Vice President and General Counsel Steve Forehand. Similar controlled burns have helped clear brush on other Russell Lands parcels across the area since last summer.

Forehand said the company hoped to burn off the undergrowth in “close to 5,000 acres” of pine forest this season, to “get rid of undesirable plant life on the forest floor.”

Among the “undesirable plant life,” Forehand said, are “volunteer pines” — small trees that pop up as pinecones germinate — sweetgum saplings, briars and “other things you don’t want in a pine forest to have a mature canopy.”

By clearing the forest floor of undesirables, Forehand said, they hope to “promote the growth of native warm-season grasses.”

“That will develop into almost a turf that will help to prevent the sprouting of plants we don’t want in the forest,” he added. “And it will also act as a water filter to prevent runoff into (Lake Martin).”

The cold rainy opening to 2014 has made it difficult to keep up their schedule he said.

Russell Lands employees will continue the prescribed burns as long as it is considered safe to do so.

Forehand said the company gets burn permits from the Alabama Forestry Commission before they begin a controlled burn on any property. They also notify emergency responders in the area, he said, “so if people call 911, they already know what’s going on.”

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