More than 400 acres burned in Big Branch Marsh

LACOMBE, LA —  Workers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are overseeing a prescribed burn at the Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.

In all, plans called for 411 acres to be burned.

During the controlled burn, smoke could be seen across the lake to the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

Wildlifeworkers say that because the wind was blowing out of the north, smoke from the fire lifted over the lake rather than the homes in the Lacombe area that are north of the prescribed burn area.

The burn is designed to knock down invasive trees, shrubs, and grasses that can choke and overrun the plants that naturally grow in the marsh.

Wildlife workers say that the nesting season for birds in the marsh is over, so no nests with eggs were destroyed. They add that while the flames burn large portions of the marsh, there are always sections of green patches that provide places for animals to escape the fire’s path.

Within a matter of weeks, tender green grass will begin to return to the burned areas. Rabbits, ducks, and other wildlife feed on the new vegetation which replaces the dry thatch and larger plants that are burned, according to wildlife workers.