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Contact: Randy Scoggins, 423-569-9778
During the next two months, 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 varying in size from 38 to 520 acres to occur at locations in both Kentucky and Tennessee.
Through years of scientific research we have 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 into 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.
In 2004, Big South Fork NRRA completed a Fire Management Plan and began a long term project to restore the natural role of fire in the ecosystem. The park uses prescribed fires to reintroduce fire into the natural landscape. These prescribed fires are fires that are intentionally set by park staff when weather conditions are most likely to recreate the low intensity fires that have occurred naturally in this region for thousands of years.
There will be several prescribed burn projects this year, if appropriate weather conditions occur. The Darrow Ridge East project is located along the western edge of the park in Fentress County, Tennessee; the project encompasses approximately 520 acres of forested land along the park boundary near the Timber Ridge Horse Camp. The Newtie King project is located along the eastern edge of the park in McCreary County, Kentucky; the project encompasses approximately 137 acres of forest and old fields in the Bear Creek area. The Monroe Fields project is located along the eastern edge of the park in McCreary County, Kentucky; the project encompasses approximately 137 acres of forest and old fields in the Bear Creek area. The Mitchell Fields project is located in the central portion of the park in Scott County, Tennessee; the project encompasses approximately 38 acres of fields and forest in the Bandy Creek area.
The prescribed burns will occur in February and March when the weather and other conditions meet predetermined criteria. Crews of up to 25 firefighters and several engines will be on hand for each burn.During a prescribed burn, all roads and trails in the burn area will be temporarily closed for visitor safety.
Please contact the park's Bandy Creek Visitor Center at (423) 286-7275 for the latest information on the current status of the prescribed burns and associated closures. The park's Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BigSouthForkNRRA) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/BigSouthForkNRR) social media sites will also announce all burning activities as they occur.