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      400 acres burned to make better habitat

      Approximately 400 acres of Seney Wildlife Refuge was scorched Monday. A process the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says has a positive outcome.

      "The purpose of it was to enhance wildlife habitat," explained Gary Lindsay, manager of the fire program at the refuge. "Like replanting your garden in the spring or cutting brush and grass growing up fresh."

      Fire helps the ecosystem regain a healthy diversity of species by controlling invasive shrubs and trees. It also helps many native plants become robust. Fire lengthens their growing season, recycles nutrients, and, for a few species, is critical for their seeds to sprout.

      Roads and rivers are used as containment boundaries. Areas without either are sprayed with water to stop the spreading.

      "We burn the understory; the pine needles and the brush," Lindsay added.

      Burning the understory leaves little fuel for a future fire to spread, reducing a fire's behavior. Future fires canâ??t be prevented, however; you can change how they burn. Thatâ??s what this fire did by killing the bottom branches of the trees.

      "It makes them less prone to fire getting up in them," Lindsay explained. "It sets the stage for that 60 or 70-year-old tree to becoming a real old tree and surviving future fires."

      It's a process the Fish and Wildlife Service says has a positive outcome for future generations.