This April the park plans to conduct a prescribed fire on approximately 135 acres of meadows, beginning as early as April 1. The park plans to burn multiple meadows, located along PA Route 23 (Valley Forge Road) and Gulph Road, with the project taking up to one week to complete depending on field conditions. Prescribed fire activity would be completed no later than April 30th.
Field and weather conditions will ultimately determine the exact dates and duration of the operation, as we only conduct prescribed fires under specific parameters to ensure public safety. Vehicle traffic in the area may experience delays due to smoke, but fire operations will be scheduled to minimize impacts during commuting hours. Visitor facilities, trails, and public roads throughout the park are expected to remain open and the public will be invited to view the fire from designated areas. The ultimate start date of the prescribed fire will be publicly shared approximately one week prior the start of the operation.
Why the Park is Conducting a Prescribed Fire
Valley Forge conducted a successful prescribed fire in 2014 and 2018 with minimal impact to visitors and neighbors, and we achieved our management goal to determine the effectiveness of fire in reducing invasive plant species in park meadows. The park contains over 1,500 acres of meadows which provide critical habitat for birds and mammals. Recently many meadows have been overtaken by exotic invasive plants that degrade habitat and cannot be adequately controlled by mowing or herbicide.
Prescribed fire is a successful tool in managing invasive plants and promoting native species, especially when used in conjunction with other treatments. Several national parks in Pennsylvania regularly utilize prescribed fire, including Gettysburg National Military Park and Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
What is Prescribed Fire?
Park managers may “prescribe” a treatment for resource benefits or research that includes lighting a fire in an area for various purposes after careful planning and under carefully controlled conditions. A prescribed fire is a planned fire; it is also sometimes called a “controlled burn” or “prescribed burn,” and is used to meet management objectives. A prescription is a set of conditions that considers the safety of the public and fire staff, weather, and probability of meeting the burn objectives.
Last updated: April 2, 2019