Controlled burn aids endangered woodpeckers
Periodic burning enhances habitat, reduces fire hazard

 A controlled burn to aid the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker was conducted April 21 at Hatchet Creek Island on Alabama Power’s Lake Mitchell.


The island, part of the Coosa Wildlife Management Area, is home to a colony of endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers. The burn maintains the habitat necessary for the woodpecker’s survival.


A controlled burn is a supervised fire set by professionals. Prescribed fire is considered one of the most effective tools for maintaining forest health and improving wildlife habitat. It also reduces wildfire hazards by reducing underbrush and “fuel buildup” that collects over time.


Alabama Power conducts periodic burns to benefit the forest and red-cockaded woodpeckers. A typical burn lasts four to five hours and does not harm wildlife or the natural habitat.


“A controlled burn is one of the most effective tools used in forestry to keep forests healthy,” said Brian Seale, forestry and right of way specialist for Alabama Power.


“Years ago, fires occurred naturally and kept forests wide open,” Seale said. “If fires are suppressed, the forest becomes a thicket of vines and other undesirable plants, and these birds don’t like that environment.”


Alabama Power lands contain one of the largest populations of red-cockaded woodpeckers on private property in Alabama. Only two such bird populations remain on private land in the state. Alabama’s Forever Wild program conducts similar conservation efforts on lands adjacent to the company’s property.


“Controlled burns are one of many land management activities Alabama

Power is conducting on Lake Mitchell in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Jim Lochamy, Alabama Power wildlife biologist. With the help of conservation work by Alabama Power, Fish and Wildlife and other partners, the population of red-cockaded woodpeckers around Lake Mitchell has more than doubled since 2003. 


To learn more about Alabama Power’s efforts to protect red-cockaded woodpeckers, read the Summer 2009 issue of Shorelines, a newsletter for lake users, at


For more information about Alabama Power’s broader environmental efforts, go to Click “Community” and then “Environment.”



News Media Contact:       Michael Sznajderman, 205-257-4155