Prescribed fire restores historic views, wildlife habitat

Firefighters work near a cannon
Firefighters manage a prescribed fire in the Brawner Farm area of Manassas National Battlefield Park.

NPS / Nathan King

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News Release Date: April 13, 2018

Contact: Jan Lemons, 202-619-7017

Manassas National Battlefield Park completes first-ever prescribed fire at Brawner Farm

Manassas, Va. - On Wednesday, April 11, 2018, National Park Service (NPS) firefighters successfully completed a prescribed fire in Manassas National Battlefield Park’s Brawner Farm area. Firefighters methodically ignited approximately 60 acres of meadow and brush to achieve three main goals: maintaining the landscape as it appeared during the Civil War, reducing the chance of wildfire, and improving habitat for wildlife including Northern bobwhite and American woodcock.

This was the first prescribed fire in the park’s history and the first prescribed fire on NPS land in Prince William County, Va. To ensure a safe and effective operation, the team had to wait for ideal weather conditions. An earlier scheduled burn was delayed because the soil was too wet.

“Our team was excited to complete the park’s first prescribed fire safely and successfully,” Park Superintendent Brandon Bies said. “We are eager to see the results, including better views and more wildlife habitat.”

Twenty-nine staff from 11 national parks in Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia and Pennsylvania helped with the fire. The staff primarily used hand tools to ignite and control the fire, with assistance from four engines and three utility task vehicles.

Before the prescribed fire, park staff surveyed the area for Civil War artifacts and wildlife.

The NPS acquired the Brawner Farm in 1985. At the time, much of the property had grown over with trees. Subsequently, the trees were cleared, restoring the historic sight lines present during the battles at Manassas in 1861 and 1862. Because of the difficulty mowing in the rocky and uneven terrain, fire is an effective way to reduce woody plant growth and to maintain the meadow ecosystem.

In August 1862, the Brawner Farm was at the center of the Confederate lines at the opening of the Battle of Second Manassas (Second Bull Run). The battle saw action from well-known units on both sides of the Civil War, pitting the Confederates’ “Stonewall Brigade” against the Federals’ “Iron Brigade.” The Confederates won the battle.

Last updated: April 13, 2018

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