ROYLASTON (CBS) – Intentionally setting the land on fire, helping it survive so life can thrive once again. It’s called a prescribed burn and it’s part of MassWildlife’s Habitat Management Program.

“I look at it as painting with fire. If there is an artistry to managing wildlife habitats,” said Brian Hawthorne of MassWildlife.

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WBZ-TV was the only news outlet invited to tag along with the Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito Thursday as they were briefed on the burn at the Birch Hill Wildlife Management Area in Royalston.

Controlled burn at Birch Hill Wildlife Management Area in Royalston (WBZ-TV)

“This is some of the work that state and local government does that doesn’t really get much attention for a whole bunch of reasons but it really makes a difference,” said Governor Charlie Baker.

Baker says he wanted to experience the controlled burn firsthand because it helps mitigate the impacts climate change and drought conditions in the state.

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“We had two big wildfires last year that took up more than 20, more than 50 acres and I would much rather have us in the business of preventing that sort of thing from happening,” said Baker.

Controlled burn at Birch Hill Wildlife Management Area in Royalston (WBZ-TV)

The multi-year, multi-phase habitat management program helps preserve rare wildlife species and plants.

“Making sure we’re keeping the forests healthy and that we are introducing fire on a regular basis to landscapes that are used to having a level of fire in their natural history,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides.

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Baker and Polito are looking forward to returning someday to see how the land reproduces.

Mike LaCrosse