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Controlled fires are a key tool for maintenance of a healthy landscape
RICHMOND, Va. – The National Park Service plans to conduct a prescribed burn at Richmond National Battlefield Park in late March or early April, subject to favorable weather conditions and other factors. The burn will take place on approximately 65 acres of park property at Malvern Hill in Henrico County.
Objective is a healthy, well-maintained historic landscape
The park burns specific areas of the park 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.
The specific objective of the burn at Malvern Hill is to maintain the historically open landscape, reduce woody and non-native species density and foster native meadow vegetation. The burn 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 and will be assisted by Henrico County Fire Department to ensure that each fire is conducted safely and without incident. The burn is expected to last no longer than eight hours. To ensure visitor safety, the park trail and parsonage parking lot at Malvern Hill will be closed during the burn. Following the fire, 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.
About Richmond National Battlefield Park
Malvern Hill is one 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 www.nps.gov/rich or www.Facebook.com/RichmondNPS.
Last updated: March 21, 2019