Prescribed Fire Program
Why do we burn???
As in many other federal and state agencies the park will utilize the prescribed fire program to assist managers in forest protection and cultural landscape restoration. Recent research identified the need for prescribed fire to restore the landscape to that of the 18th century. A vascular plant survey further supported the use of fire as a management tool. The study indicated that the heavy fuel layer was contributing to the decline in the park's biodiversity.
The inherent danger for a catastrophic wildfire increases each year across the country due to fuel build-ups caused by insect damage, violent storms, and drought. Prescribed fire, unlike wildfire, is practiced when conditions are favorable for fire personnel to conduct the burn for the desired effects. The benefits of prescribed fire are immeasurable. Prescribed fire will greatly reduce the heavy fuel loads that currently exist as a result of forest pests and Hurricane Hugo. It will also enhance the biodiversity of the forest that will be beneficial to the wildlife populations within in the park. Botanists recently in the park indicated that the inventory of vascular plants would increase by a minimum of 100 plants after the prescribed burns.
Visitors to the park can expect to see a burned area until the native grasses start to regenerate after the burn. Once a burning regime is established for the management of the cultural landscape, visitors can expect to see a forest similar to that of the 18th century. Such a forest was described in Dr. J.B. Landrum's book, Colonial and Revolutionary History of Upper South Carolina, the landscape was described in the following manner: "Up to the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, the woodlands in the upper regions of South Carolina were carpeted with grass and the wild pea vine... while flowers of every description were seen growing all around. The forests were imposing, the trees were large and stood so wide apart that a deer or buffalo could be seen at a long distance."