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Contact: Dan Winings, 580-622-7282
SULPHUR, OK - Chickasaw National Recreation Area (NRA) plans to begin a series of prescribed fires beginning February 1, 2013 and continuing through February 14, 2013 (depending on weather conditions). These burns will occur in the Five Lakes, Hunting, and Point areas of the park, as well as along the South Boundary. Approximately 3,000 acres may be treated. Burning is anticipated to occur primarily in the afternoon and evening hours, from approximately 4 pm to 9 pm, daily.
Smoke from these prescribed fires may be visible in downtown Sulphur, Davis, Dougherty, Rock Creek, Veterans Lake, Buckhorn areas, Goddard Youth Camp Road, and along Chickasaw Trail but every effort will be made to minimize smoke impacts. Wind direction and upper level mixing of smoke will be utilized in an attempt to eliminate or reduce these inconveniences. Smoke will be present in the vicinity during burning, but is generally expected to settle over the Lake of the Arbuckles and disperse overnight. If you would like to receive daily updates on which burn unit will be ignited and predicted direction of smoke impacts, please call 580 622-7234 or visit http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3316/.
These prescribed fires will burn slash from 3,000 acres of thinned eastern red cedar cut during the summer and fall of 2010 and 2012. Native to Oklahoma, eastern red cedar is extremely invasive. The tree species creates a wildfire hazard, displaces other species from the natural ecosystem, impairs local air quality by producing allergens, and contributes to the general decline of the local water table. Under natural conditions eastern red cedar is limited by periodic natural fires.
Thinning of the eastern red cedar will increase public safety by reducing the hazardous fuel load in the wildland-urban interface and move the ecosystem closer to a natural state. Residents near these burn areas will benefit because the fuel from dead plant material that has accumulated over the years is reduced under controlled conditions. This significantly reduces the threat a wildfire would pose to people and property in and near the park. Prescribed fire also improves habitat which will contribute to increases in species such as deer and turkey and thereby improve hunting opportunities.
These prescribed fires will be conducted by approximately 60 fire personnel from Chickasaw NRA, Bandelier National Monument (New Mexico), Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site (Colorado), Big Bend National Park (Texas), El Malpais National Monument (New Mexico), Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona), Lake Meredith National Recreation Area (Texas), Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado), Saguaro National Park (Arizona), and Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma). Firefighter and public safety are the number one priority.