NEWPORT — Vermillion County residents should not be alarmed if they see smoke coming from the southwestern part of the Newport Chemical Depot on Friday or Saturday.
The Newport Chemical Depot is hosting a Prescribed Fire Management Workshop organized by the Sycamore Trails Resource Conservation & Development Council Inc.’s Fish & Wildlife Committee. As part of the workshop, tallgrass prairie on the southwestern portion of the depot will be burned Friday or Saturday, depending on the weather forecast. The Indiana Division of Forestry’s Fire Control Headquarters is conducting the training and burning.
Fire, whether set or caused by lightning, has been a part of the prairie for thousands of years. It can remove dead vegetation that hinders new growth. It can release nutrients to enrich the soil. It can reduce invader plants and encourage native species and creates habitats attractive to wildlife. The Newport Chemical Depot has approximately 336 acres of native prairie grass, which has been planted and maintained by the Depot for the past 15 years.
Students in the class represent local fire departments, local landowners, depot firefighters, Indiana Department of Natural Resources employees, city park and nature centers, and other interested citizens from the community.
Workshop sponsors include the Indiana Division of Fish & Wildlife, Mason & Hanger Corp., AgVenture D & M Inc., the Elanco Wildlife Habitat Team and Pheasants Forever/Coal Creek Chapter.
The chemical agent stockpile was destroyed as of August 2008 and Depot workers are safely preparing to transition and ultimately close the Depot.