U.S. Forest Service: Prescribed fire season begins on Cheoah Ranger District in Nantahala

Press release
from the U.S. Forest Service

Prescribed Fire Season Begins on Cheoah Ranger District

ROBBINSVILLE, N.C., Feb. 28, 2013 – The U.S. Forest Service today announced that the prescribed burning season for the Cheoah Ranger District, Nantahala National Forest, will take place from early March to late April. The agency plans to conduct prescribed burning, during the dormant season, on approximately 1,353 acres on the district to help prevent wildfires and promote a healthy forest.

The Cheoah Ranger District plans to burn 1,400 to 2,500 acres each year. The prescribed burn areas in Graham County are located in the following areas: 822 acres at the Shell Stand area, 352 acres near Cheoah Bald, 80 acres at West Buffalo, 88 acres at the Big Fat area, and 11 acres at the Cheoah Ranger District Helispot near the Cheoah District Office.

Native plants and animals in the national forest depend on natural fire cycles, which are mimicked through the use of prescribed fires to balance habitat and food sources. Prescribed burns promote the growth of herbaceous plants that provide food, such as fruit, for wildlife including important game animals such as deer and turkey. Prescribed burns also benefit wildlife by increasing the abundance of many trees that produce nuts, particularly oaks, which do not germinate or grow well in dense, shady conditions.

Prescribed burning is also one of the most effective land management tools used in preventing the outbreak and spread of wildfires. Burning the same tract of land on a rotation of every three to seven years reduces the buildup of vegetation (fuel), decreasing the chance of severe wildfire.

The safety of the public and firefighters is the number one priority during prescribed burns. All prescribed burns are completed by trained professionals in accordance with an approved, detailed plan, which includes desired weather conditions. All prescribed burns are analyzed by a team of specialists to ensure the wildlife, fisheries, rare plants and historic sites are not harmed. Burning days are fluid because the proper weather conditions are needed to achieve desired results.

For more information, contact Tim Solesbee at 828-479-6431. Individuals sensitive to smoke can call the Cheoah Ranger District at 828-479-6431 to be placed on the prescribed burn notification list.

For more information on prescribed burning, visit www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc and click on “Restoring Fire to the Mountains.”

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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