Fuels Management at the Natchez Trace Parkway
As leaves, needles, and limbs fall, dead plant material accumulates on the forest floor. Severe weather, such as strong winds, hurricanes, and tornadoes, increase the amount of buildup. These fuels would naturally have been “cleaned out” by wildfires or fires lit by native peoples before historic settlement. Now, since wildfires are suppressed as quickly as possible to provide for public safety (see Fire Suppression), the buildups can be unnaturally large. This increases the risk that a wildfire will be more severe, and potentially catastrophic to the forest and surrounding communities. In order to combat this, alternative methods must be used to control fuel buildup and create a more natural-looking ecosystem. These methods fall under the duties of Fuels Management.