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WEST HARTLAND, Conn. (AP) — The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection plans to intentionally burn 18 acres of field inside the Tunxis State Forest.

Depending on the weather, the agency has scheduled the control burn for Monday, during the late morning or mid-day. The field is located near Route 20 in West Hartland.

DEEP officials say the burn is needed to maintain native “warm season” grasses by killing competition from woody stems that are beginning to encroach on the field. The grasses are considered a critical habitat for a number of wildlife species, especially migratory birds such as the Meadowlark, Bobolink and Savannah Sparrow.

DEEP says fire allows the agency to maintain the habitat without using chemicals to control invading plants. It also returns nutrients to the soil and encourages native grasses to grow.