Richmond National Battlefield Park to conduct prescribed burns

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Date: April 8, 2013

Contact:Tim Mauch, Chief Ranger: 804-795-5018 ext.1

RICHMOND, Va. - The National Park Service plans to conduct prescribed burns at two sites within Richmond National Battlefield Park in mid-April.The burns will take place on approximately 40 acres of park property at Malvern Hill in Henrico County and 20 acres at Cold Harbor in Hanover County.The Malvern Hill burn is currently scheduled for today, Monday, April 8, subject to favorable weather conditions and other factors.The park hopes to conduct the Cold Harbor burn the week of April 8.

Objective is a healthy, well-maintained historic landscape

The park burns these areas every two to three years in order to maintain the landscape as it appeared when the opposing armies fought here during the summer of 1862 and 1864.

The specific objective of the burn at Malvern Hill is to maintain the historic 1862 scene as a meadow and to reduce woody and non-native species density. At Cold Harbor, the burn will maintain the historic open forest and enhance the native plant community of fire-adapted species. Both burns will also enhance the valuable wildlife habitat associated with the native plant communities and reduce the park's maintenance costs.

Safety is Primary Factor

In order to ensure that the burns remain under the control of firefighters, they will be carried out only if and when certain conditions are met. Safely conducting a prescribed burn is based on frequent monitoring of weather conditions. Various factors such as wind direction, wind speed, smoke dispersion, and fuel moisture must be within a strict, pre-determined range. If any of these environmental parameters are not met, the burn will not proceed; if the conditions start favorably and change, the burn will be stopped.

Under this prescription, the fire will move slowly through the area and stop at established burn breaks. Smoke will disperse quickly from the area, although neighbors may smell smoke during and shortly after the burn period.

The park will have no fewer than 12 certified wildland fire fighters on hand to ensure that each fire is conducted safely and without incident. Each is expected to last no longer than eight hours and the two burns will take place on different days. To ensure visitor safety, the park trail and parsonage parking lot at Malvern Hill will be closed during the burn and at Cold Harbor the park tour road and extended trail will be closed. Following the fires, the burned areas will temporarily be black. However, in just a few weeks, they will be green with vegetation.

At Malvern Hill, the areas to be burned are surrounded by a wide gravel road, wetland and areas of short-mowed grass. At Cold Harbor, the burn area is surrounded by an asphalt road and a wetland.

About Richmond National Battlefield Park

Cold Harbor and Malvern Hill are two of the 13 sites protected by Richmond National Battlefield Park where key Civil War battles took place in 1862 and 1864.The park also hosts five visitor centers and a driving tour of the battlefields along an 80-mile route through Hanover, Henrico, and Chesterfield counties. A full day is required to experience the entire battlefield park.The main park visitor center is located at Historic Tredegar (470 Tredegar Street in Richmond) and provides museum exhibits, audio-visual programs, and orientation services to help plan a visit to the battlefields.For additional information, contact Richmond National Battlefield Park at 804-226-1981, or via the Internet at or


Last updated: February 26, 2015

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3215 E. Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23223


(804) 226-1981

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