James Oehler, NH Fish and Game: (603) 271-0453
Tom Trask, NH Division of Forests and Lands: (603) 419-9148
May 13, 2022

A map of Joy State Forest showing the areas slated for prescribed fire.

Concord, NH – A prescribed fire is being planned for a day in May, weather conditions permitting, at the blueberry barrens located in Joy State Forest in Alton, NH. The fire will be conducted by members of the NH Prescribed Fire Council, including staff from the NH Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ Division of Forests and Lands, the NH Fish and Game Department, the New Boston Space Force Station, and others under the guidance of a comprehensive plan to ensure that conditions and available resources are adequate to safely implement the burn. If the burn cannot be conducted this spring, another attempt will be made in the fall.

“Safety is our number one priority when conducting prescribed burns,” said Steven Sherman, Chief of the NH Forest Protection Bureau. “We make sure that all crew members are well trained and that vegetation and weather conditions are just right to accomplish our objectives while minimizing risk.”

A prescribed fire is planned to occur at this location every few years to maintain the valuable old field and blueberry barrens habitat that will benefit a variety of wildlife and maintain the tremendous views of the surrounding area.

“To maintain healthy plants and fruit production, blueberry bushes have to be pruned periodically, and fire is one of the most commonly used and effective means to do that,” said Jim Oehler, Wildlife Habitat Program Supervisor for NH Fish and Game. “Healthy blueberry plants will produce loads of flowers and fruit that will benefit a variety of wildlife, from bears to birds to bees.”

Joy State Forest has a long history of prescribed fire when it was managed as a commercial blueberry barren prior to state ownership. This would be the first fire conducted by state officials at this location.