JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - You have probably seen a lot of smoke billowing over the skies of Jackson County this week. If the weather cooperates, expect to see even more smoke on Friday.
Firefighters have been conducting prescribed burns since Monday at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. They have been burning about 200 acres a day. They plan to burn between 5,000 and 6,000 acres through June.
The burns are used for hazardous fuel reduction. They help remove overgrown vegetation like shrubs, pine saplings and grasses to reduce the chance of catastrophic wildfires. The second purpose has to do with ecological benefits, basically protecting the Long Leaf Pine savannah for all habitats, including the Sandhill Cranes.
The U.S. Forestry Service and the Nature Conservancy of Mississippi and Louisiana are also conducting prescribed burns near that area to take advantage of the right weather conditions.