Park Plans Prescribed Burn in Catalooche
Contact: Public Affairs Office, (865) 436-1207
Great Smoky Mountains National Park fire management officials are planning a 155-acre prescribed burn in the Canadian Top unit adjacent to Cataloochee Valley in North Carolina.
Weather permitting, burn operations could begin as early as Wednesday, May 1, and may continue intermittently through early May. The 155-acre burn tract along Jesse Ridge is part of the larger Canadian Top prescribed burn unit. Fire managers plan to use a series of low-intensity controlled burns over a number of years to restore the composition and open structure of the oak and pine woodlands that occur on upper slopes and ridges within the site. These fire and drought-tolerant natural communities are important to wildlife and overall ecosystem health, and they are in decline throughout the Southern Appalachian region. The burn is being led by the Great Smoky Wildland Fire Module along with the Great Smoky Fire Effects team and the Great Smoky Wildland Fire Engine Crew.
"One of the goals of the prescribed burn project is to improve elk forage and habitat," stated Great Smoky Wildland Fire Module Leader and Burn Boss, Shane Paxton. This series of burns will reduce the number of fire-sensitive trees and shrubs while increasing regeneration of oak and yellow pines, and increase the cover and diversity of native grasses and wildflowers. Over time, this increase in vegetation on the forest floor will improve forage for elk which graze the nearby meadows.
Roads and trails will remain open to the public. Visitors should expect to see smoke in the area.
For more information on the use of prescribed burns in the Smokies, visit our website at www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/fire-regime
Did You Know?
The park’s high elevation heath balds are treeless expanses where dense thickets of shrubs such as mountain laurel, rhododendron, and sand myrtle grow. Known as “laurel slicks” and “hells” by early settlers, heath balds were most likely created by forest fires long ago. More...