Sixteen forest firefighters from The Nature Conservancy and the Delaware Forest Service worked together to burn 110 acres of pine forest at the TNC’s Ponders Tract Preserve on April 13.

The prescribed burn will help maintain natural landscapes by keeping invasive species in check and natural areas from becoming overgrown. On a national level, The Nature Conservancy has been managing land through prescribed burns for more than 50 years but this was the first time the practice was applied to forestland by TNC in Delaware.

The 110-acre area within the Ponders Tract Preserve that was burned was primarily loblolly pine forest, as the property had previously been a loblolly pine plantation before it came under the control of The Nature Conservancy in 2004. It is hoped that by allowing more sunlight to reach the forest floor, a wider variety of trees will have the chance to grow.

This prescribed burn was overseen by Patrick McElhenny, Pennsylvania and Delaware fire manager for The Nature Conservancy.