The early European settlers of New England found a land of abundance in which there was a seemingly endless supply of timber and wildlife. Native Americans regularly burned the forest in controlled fires. These fires cleared out the underbrush, making it easier to travel through the woods when hunting deer. They also encouraged the growth of grasses and berries in the forest. Colonists followed their example. An early Connecticut law, enacted in 1650, regulated the setting of fires in the woods. In 1801, Cornwall’s Elijah Allen wrote that the woods were often burned during the Spring “in former years.”

“The object of these conflagrations was to produce fresh and sweet pasture for the purpose of alluring the deer to the spots on which they had been kindled.”

~ Timothy Dwight, Travels in New-England and New-York, Vol. IV, 1823