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GMI Takes on Prescribed Fire Duties at NAS Patuxent River

May 2012

Prescribed Fire at NAS Patuxent River
As a full service company, Geo-Marine must venture into new environmental arenas to offer innovative services to clients.

As part of the 2001 Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy, Department of Defense installations with wildland fire risk or the desire to conduct prescribed burns must develop a Wildland Fire Management Plan (WFMP). To date, GMI has completed a number of WFMPs for military installations, including Naval Air Station Patuxent River (NAS PAX) in Maryland. One year after accepting the final fire management plan, NAS PAX contracted GMI to implement one portion of the plan by conducting a prescribed burn in a grassland area at NAS PAX making it GMI’s first prescribed burn.

Prescribed burning is a management tool used by natural resources professionals to apply fire to natural systems in a controlled setting for natural resources management purposes. Prescribed fire lessens the potential for devastating wildfire by reducing accumulated brush and leaf litter in natural areas which can easily ignite during dry, hot weather. It can also help enhance airfields, recreational areas, and plant and wildlife habitat.

GMI conducted the NAS PAX on-installation prescribed burn at Fishing Point on March 29 to stimulate native grass growth and reduce wildfire potential. The site is a 22-acre capped landfill that was previously restored to a native, warm-season grass habitat for bobwhite quail. The prescribed burn was part of a larger Installation Restoration project managed by Hampton GMI’s Meegan Wallace.

Subcontracted Burn Boss, James Remuzzi of Sustainable Solutions, conducted the burn, and Hampton GMI wildland fire-certified employees Meredith Malone, Jef DeBerry and Chris Lotts served as part of the burn crew. Another area at a NAS PAX airfield runway is scheduled to be burned in 2013 and a campground site on the installation will be burned in 2014 by GMI and Sustainable Solutions. NAS PAX plans to hire the GMI team to burn the three sites on a rotating cycle every other year.