Prescribed Fires to Begin in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
Contact: Howard Duncan, 423-569-9778
During the next 6 - 8 weeks, National Park Service fire crews will be conducting a series of prescribed fires within Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. The prescribed fires, as defined in the Fire Management Plan, will all be located within the boundaries of the park. Plans call for burns of varying size to occur at locations in Tennessee.
Through years of scientific research it has been learned that fire is an essential, natural process. It has helped shape our woodlands for thousands of years, and is important for the survival of many plants and animals. Fires removes the layers of dead and down trees, leaves and other vegetation from the forest floor that can inhibit plant growth and recycles the nutrients back in to the environment. Fire also increases the diversity of plant and wildlife habitat. Some plants, such as American Chaffseed, have disappeared from the park because they need fire to reproduce.
Prior to human settlement, the fire history of the Southern Appalachian Region was a pattern of small low intensity fires interspersed over the landscape at irregular intervals with occasionally large fires. The frequency at which fires occurred increased with the arrival of humans about 10,000 years ago. European settlers used fire to clear land and facilitate farming and grazing in to the early 1900s.
In 2004 the Big South Fork NNRA completed a Fire Management Plan and began a long term project to restore the role of fire in the ecosystem. The park uses prescribed fires to reintroduce fire into the natural landscape. These prescribed fires are ignited by park staff only when weather conditions are most likely to recreate the low intensity fires that have occurred naturally in this region for thousands of years. Four units are scheduled for prescribed fire this year.
The Darrow Ridge East Project is located along the western edge of the park in Fentress County TN. The project encompasses approximately 520 acres of land along the park boundary near the Timber Ridge Horse Camp.
The Gobblers Knob B-1 Project is located in the Northwestern area of the park in Scott County TN. The project encompasses approximately 531 acres of land along the park boundary near the intersection of Divide Road and Terry Cemetery Road.The Gobblers Knob B - 2 Project is located in the Northwestern area of the park in Scott County TN. The project encompasses approximately 821 acres of land along the park boundary near the Terry Cemetery.
The Burke Place Project is located along Highway 297 in Scott County TN just east of the Scott/Fentress County line. The project includes 8 Grass Fields encompassing a total of approximately 27.5 acres.
Ignitions are scheduled to occur in February, March and April. Only when the weather and other conditions meet the defined prescription will the fires be ignited.Ignitions will not occur every day.
In addition to meeting specific conditions, crews of up to 25 firefighters and several engines will be on hand for each burn. Any park neighbor who may be impacted will be contacted prior to ignition. During a prescribed burn all roads and trails in the burn area will be temporarily closed for visitor safety.
You may contact the Bandy Creek Visitor Center at 423-286-7275 for the latest information on the current status of the prescribed burns and associated closures.
Did You Know?
The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area protects only 14% of its watershed. Unfortunately it is the lower end of the watershed, so that everything which happens outside the park, impacts the parks water quality.