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7/25/2005

Controlled Burn at A.C. International Airport Designed to Repel an Invasive Plant

you see smoke at Atlantic City International Airport late Saturday morning, you need NOT call the fire department. Firefighters and personnel from the New Jersey Forest Service and the airport’s Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighters will already be on site for a controlled burn of several acres northeast of the intersection of the airport’s two main runways.

The fire is a critical component of a plan to control an invasive plant called Chinese bush clover (Lespedeza cuneata) and restore the area to native plants, said Chris Boggs, a wildlife biologist in charge of the airport’s environmental programs. The burn is part of the environmental mitigation program at the airport, funded in part by grants from the Federal Aviation Administration.

A portion of the 5,500-acre airport site is home to the Upland Sandpiper, an endangered species that needs the native grasslands being displaced by the invading clover. It hides its nests in the tall grass and raises its fledglings there. The most recent count found five nesting sandpiper pairs in the airport grasslands, Boggs said. Upland Sandpipers are on the state’s endangered species list.

The habitat preservation project was undertaken with the assistance of the New Jersey Audubon Society.

The controlled burn will occur between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, July 30, weather permitting. If conditions are unfavorable, the burn is scheduled for either of the next two Saturdays.

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