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(Mammoth Cave National Park – March 12, 2007) Mammoth Cave National Park will be conducting prescribed fires in the following weeks. Because the fires produce smoke that may linger, some areas in the park will be temporarily closed. Drivers are reminded to drive slowly and use their headlights in smoky areas.
“We like to get a safety message out prior to each prescribed fire, so the public knows what to expect,” said Superintendent Patrick H. Reed. “There could be smoke on some roads and trails, and some areas will be closed for the safety of the firefighters and the public. It will be short notice, too, because we can only burn when the weather and other conditions are right.”
For the Big Woods fire: White Oak Trail and White Oak backcountry campsite will be closed temporarily. Traffic along the Little Jordan Road may experience brief delays. Smoke may be visible north and east of the park.
For the Dennison Ferry fire: Dennison Ferry Road and Dennison Ferry Day Use Area will be closed temporarily. Traffic along the Flint Ridge Road and Park Ridge Road may experience brief delays. Smoke may be visible north and east of the park.
For the Chaumont fire: residents along Highway 70 and Highway 255 adjacent to the park’s southeast boundary may experience some smoke; traffic may be delayed due to smoke.
On the day of the Big Woods (1,540 acres) and Dennison Ferry (790 acres) fires, firefighters will blackline the perimeter, by burning a swath 10 to 20 feet wide inside the fireline. Aerial ignition, via helicopter, will be used to set the ridgetops on fire. Based on the prescription, average flame height is expected to be two feet or less. The fire will be allowed to creep downslope into the hollows; there will be no ignition in the hollows or along the river. The Chaumont fire (85 acres) will be ignited by hand.
“We ask that anyone traveling through the park be aware of fire equipment and personnel in the vicinity of the fires,” said Rich Caldwell, the park’s fire management officer. “And any persons with health conditions aggravated by smoke should limit visitation to areas around the burn sites.”
The central purpose of prescribed burns is to replicate, as closely as possible, the role that naturally occurring fires played in shaping and maintaining the park’s diverse ecosystem. The prescribed burns are carefully planned and monitored fires used to improve habitat by removing encroaching plants, releasing nutrients, and burning off grass thatch that prevents natural reseeding. Along the north boundary of the burn unit, on the park boundary, prescribed fire will reduce hazardous fuels at the wild land urban interface/public-private lands interface.
- NPS -