US Forest Service conducting prescribed burns

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GOSHEN, Vt. (WCAX A big fire Wednesday in the Green Mountain National Forest, but this blaze was no call for alarm -- it was to actually make the forest healthier.

Through thick smoke crews could be seen starting fires in the Green Mountain National Forest.

"We use fire as a management tool," said the U.S. Forest Service's Ethan Ready. "Essentially to enhance these areas that we manage for wildlife." He says crews will be treating hundreds of acres this spring by setting them on fire. On this day, three acres of blueberry bushes went up in smoke.

"The objective is to burn these units and mechanically thin them if there is a need for it so we can open it up and promote the growth of blueberry and raspberry," said Michael White, part of a team from the White River National Forest in Colorado that was brought in to help out

The prescribed burns also keep growth under control to reduce the risk of a wildfire. "The only way they are going to stay open is if we eliminate or slow down or stop the encroachment of some of these plant species that are moving in," White said.

And it's vital that this happens now, after the snow melt and before the forest turns green. "That period where we have the ability to use fire as an enrichment tool is very short," White said.

Using fire to produce a healthier forest. "These areas where we use fire as a management tool, it really helps the grasses come back with vigor," Ready said.

A firey field now that will be land we can all enjoy later.