Press releasefrom U. S. Forest Service
The U.S. Forest Service plans to conduct a prescribed burn in the Curtis Creek area of McDowell County between now and April to reduce hazardous fuels and improve wildlife habitat. The prescribed burn could occur as early as next week, depending on the weather.
The prescribed burn will be implemented approximately six miles north of Old Fort, N.C, in the Grandfather Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest. Part of the area is a sanctuary for bears, which will benefit from the prescribed burn. The containment lines for the fire are Curtis Creek Rd, Newberry Creek Rd and trail, as well as Horse Branch and Licklog Branch creeks. The following trails will be closed during the prescribed burn: Newberry Creek Trail #210 and Snook's Nose #211.
The safety of the firefighters and public is the number one priority. The public is asked to heed signs posted at trailheads and roads and to stay away from burn areas and closed roads and trails.
The burn will occur over a 4-5-day period. The Forest Service will conduct the prescribed burn when environmental conditions permit; wind and relative humidity are key factors in fire behavior, safety and smoke control. The Forest Service is required to meet state air quality requirements and will conduct smoke modeling to determine the optimal conditions for minimizing the effects of smoke. The proper personnel and equipment will be on site during and after implementation of the prescribed burn.
The burn will remove woody debris and enhance wildlife habitat by decreasing the amount of mountain laurel and rhododendron. This management practice will allow mast-producing plant species to grow, improving habitat for game and non-game animal species such as turkeys, resident and neo-tropical songbirds, deer and bears.
The U.S. Forest Service will conduct the burn in cooperation with the NC Forest Service, Old Fort Volunteer Fire Department and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Approximately 3,700 acres of U.S. Forest Service land will be burned. Approximately 100 acres of National Park Service land will be included in the burn. Private land is not included in the burn.
The Forest Service is conducting the burn as part of the Grandfather Restoration Project, a 10-year project designed to restore 40,000 acres of the Grandfather Ranger District. The project is restoring fire-adapted ecosystems by enhancing conditions for a variety of native plants and wildlife, controlling non-native species and protecting hemlocks against hemlock woolly adelgids.
For more information on prescribed fire, visit the U.S. Forest Service website, http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/management/. Information about the National Forests in North Carolina is available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc.
For more information, contact the Grandfather Ranger District at 828-652-2144.