Forum to explore role of fire in protecting Long Island’s forests

“Keeping the Pine in the Pine Barrens” will be the theme of an upcoming fire management workshop at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton that will examine the role of fire in maintaining public safety, forest health, and ecological integrity in Long Island’s Central Pine Barrens. The event will feature experts in fire management and forest ecology including Dr. William Patterson III, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Tim Kelly, deputy fire chief at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Long Island’s Pine Barrens region is a globally rare ecosystem that is dependent on fire. This formidable and natural process is integral to maintaining habitats for the unique and rare flora and fauna of the Pine Barrens. Today, these natural communities have been altered by development, fire suppression, safety efforts, and emerging threats such as the southern pine beetle. The exclusion of fire is problematic because fire, when safely implemented, can be a cost-effective tool to reduce fuel hazards around homes and businesses while also helping to restore critical and natural ecosystem processes.

The two-day program held at Brookhaven National Lab initiates an important and timely dialogue on the importance of “Keeping the Pine in the Pine Barrens.” The program opens on the evening of May 3rd with a discussion on Fire Management in the Wildland Urban Interface presented by three regional fire management experts. The program continues on May 4th with panel presentations addressing Restoring Pine in the Pine Barrens and Fuel Hazard Reduction and the Southern Pine Beetle presented by regional researchers and land managers in the Northeast as well as USDA Forest Service professionals. The day concludes with afternoon field trips to examine and discuss firsthand the benefits of prescribed fire within local controlled burn units and forest health demonstration sites.

The event will be held at Brookhaven National Laboratory and is open to the public for a $10 fee for the May 4 program; the May 3 evening talk is free of charge. For more information or to register (which is required for both days) please visit

This event is a joint effort of the North Atlantic Fire Science Exchange, the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

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