Great Smoky Mountains National Park fire management officials are planning two 200-acre prescribed burns in the Canadian Top unit adjacent to Cataloochee Valley in North Carolina. Weather permitting, burn operations could begin as early as Monday, October 28th, and may continue intermittently through early November.
"One of the goals of the prescribed burn is to improve elk forage and habitat," said Great Smoky Mountain Wildland Fire Module Leader Shane Paxton. “This series of burns will reduce the number of fire-sensitive trees and shrubs while increasing the regeneration of oak and yellow pines along with increasing the cover and diversity of native grasses and wildflowers. Over time, this increase in herbaceous vegetation on the forest floor will improve forage for elk which graze the nearby meadows.”
Roads and trails will remain open to the public throughout the burn operations, although Little Cataloochee Trail may be temporarily closed if fire activity warrants. Visitors should expect to see smoke in the area.
The burn operations will be conducted by park staff and are being funded by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. For more information on the use of prescribed burns in Great Smoky Mountains NP, visit our website at www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/fire-regime.
Hiking in the Smokies