Park to Conduct Prescribed Fire in Darrow Ridge Area
Contact: Steven Seven, 423.569.9778
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is planning to conduct a prescribed fire in the Darrow Ridge area of the park during April of 2006. The plan calls for the park to burn an area of some 550 acres bounded by Darrow Ridge Road and East Laurel Fork. The prescribed fire, as defined in the approved Fire Management Plan, will be located within the boundaries of the park.
Fire has long played an important role in the ecology of a forest. Lightning fires have been a natural occurrence in this area for centuries. Fire opens the forest canopy, allowing sunlight to reach the seedlings. Some plant species reproduce better after fire. In the past century, suppression of fire has blocked these important processes. Now vast accumulations of deadwood have increased wildfire hazards dramatically. Animal species also benefit from the increased acorn production, abundant berries and herbaceous plants which come in after a fire.
Prescribed fire is a carefully managed tool used by land managers to improve forest health and increase public safety. The fire’s prescription is a window of conditions within which a fire may be ignited. A fire's "prescription" includes a detailed analysis of an area’s geographic and ecological conditions and a definition of very specific weather conditions which must exist. These “prescribed” conditions maximize the parks ability to control the fire and to minimize smoke in local communities. If the weather or conditions do not meet the defined prescription, the fire is not ignited. In addition to meeting specific conditions, crews of 20 – 25 firefighters and 4 engines will be on hand for each burn.
When the defined conditions are correct and the park is planning on conducting a prescribed burn park neighbors will be notified. In addition, area newspapers and radio stations will be advised.
During the burns some park roads and trails may be closed temporarily for visitor safety. Please contact the parks visitor centers at either 423-286-7275 for the latest information on the current status of any burn or associated closure.