Fire as a Management Tool

firefighter ignites a prescribed burn
A firefighter uses a drip torch to ignite a prescribed fire.

NPS photo

The National Park Service uses prescribed fire as a vegetation management tool to accomplish natural and cultural resource goals. At New River Gorge National Park and Preserve resource managers use prescribed fires to maintain native habitat, help support regeneration of certain tree species, and reduce fuel loads, thereby reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires.
firefighter monitors prescribed burn
A firefighter monitors a prescribed burn at Sandstone Visitor Center.

NPS photo

At Sandstone Visitor Center, the National Park Service conducts yearly prescribed burns to help maintain native grasslands. Native vegetation helps to support wildlife by providing food and shelter. Without “maintaining” our native grasslands, exotic species encroach, competing with and ultimately displacing native species. The use of prescribed burning at Sandstone helps resource managers to control non-native, exotic species.

Prescribed fires allow fire managers to conduct a safe burn under optimal conditions with sufficient resources available to meet specific objectives such as decreasing the risks from wildland fire to life, property and resources, restoring ecological processes, and meeting specific resource management goals. Before burning, a designated set of conditions must exist including ideal air temperature, wind speed and direction, and relative humidity. Prior to implementing a burn, fire managers will evaluate current conditions and will only begin ignition if the prescribed conditions are within those parameters. Weather conditions are monitored throughout the duration of the burn to ensure the prescribed fire is completed safely.

Last updated: February 10, 2022

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