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Contact: Vickie Carson, 270-758-2192
Mammoth Cave National Park staff are preparing now for two prescribed fires this spring.
"The park has conducted twenty two prescribed fires since 2002," said Superintendent Patrick Reed. "This year we are targeting two areas that we have previously burned – Chaumont and the Crystal Cave unit."
Prescribed fires are used to promote or control certain plant species, enhance wildlife habitat, protect personal property adjacent to the park boundary, and clear downed, dead trees that could fuel a large forest fire.
Fire professionals from other parks travel to Mammoth Cave to plan, prepare the sites, and manage the fires. This year Mammoth Cave will receive assistance from Cumberland Gap NHP, Natchez Trace Parkway, and Big South Fork NRRA.
Aerial ignition will be used on the Crystal Cave unit, while Chaumont will be lit by hand with drip torches. Weather conditions for the prescribed fires and the resulting smoke will be monitored by park staff. Smoke will be highly visible to the public during these operations and smoldering may continue for several days after the burns.
To keep the public well informed, the park will issue specific notices about temporary closures that may be required at the time the prescribed fires are conducted.
Chaumont Burn Unit
The Chaumont Unit, 86 acres, is located in a large sinkhole along the southeast boundary of the park. Prairie species had been known to grow in this valley before it was first burned in 2004 and 2007. To improve the barrens habitat, prairie grasses and forbs were planted in part of the unit in 2008 and 2009. Prescribed fire will reduce nonnative clovers, grasses, vines, and other woody plants, freeing the native species - more -from competition. In cooperation with adjoining landowners and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the burn area includes some private property in order to avoid construction of mid-slope fire control lines.
Crystal Cave Unit
The Crystal Cave Unit, 1,785 acres, is located north of Flint Ridge Road and south of Green River, bounded on the east by Dennison Ferry Road and on the west by Great Onyx Road; 400 acres of this unit have been burned previously. Prep crews will establish perimeters around the Collins' house, Crystal Cave entrance, the ticket-sales building, Mammoth Cave Baptist Church and cemeteries to protect them. Prescribed fire will enhance open habitat needed for prairies species, and reduce or exhaust hazardous fuels (dead and downed trees left by the 2009 ice storm). Flint Ridge Road and Dennison Ferry Day Use Area will be closed during this fire.
- NPS -