The Big South Fork NRRA Fire Management Plan represents a first step toward a judicious reintroduction of fire in Big South Fork. Fire management objectives in the current plan include reducing hazard fuel accumulations, maintaining cultural landscapes, and controlling exotic species. To meet these objectives, prescribed burns will be focused around historic structures, around developed areas, near park boundaries, and in selected meadows. These are important objectives, and the emphasis is rightfully placed on safety and the protection of resources and property.
The Fire Management Plan also recognizes a need to ultimately adapt this management plan to include additional ecological considerations. The plan must consider the role of the introduced fire regime on the landscape, on plant and animal communities, and, in some cases, on specific species. Certain communities or species in the Big South Fork are adapted to fire or may require fire; others may be adversely impacted by fire. As managers charged with protecting the resources, the park is obligated to recognize where fire is necessary as well as where it should be excluded thus achieving the objectives outlined by the current plan while simultaneously addressing important ecological concerns.
The authority for carrying out a fire management program at the Big Sough Fork originates with the Organic Act of the National Park System, August 25, 1916. The Organic Act states the primary goal of the National Park Service is to preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources found on lands under its management in such manner as will leave them unimpaired for future generations.
Copies of the Fire Management Plan, the associated Environmental Assessment and the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) are all available on-line as PDF files. They may be downloaded from the following links.