Over the next several months as weather allows, the U.S. Forest Service is conducting several controlled burns across the four National Forests in North Carolina -- Croatan, Uwharrie, Nantahala, and Pisgah.
The agency will notify the public when the decision is made to conduct controlled burns in their area. Burning days are changeable because the proper weather conditions are needed. Controlled burning will only occur when environmental conditions permit; wind and relative humidity are key factors in fire behavior, safety, and smoke control. A scheduled burn may be cancelled that morning if conditions are not within the expected values.
The Forest Service is required to meet state air quality requirements and will conduct smoke modeling to reduce the possible effects of smoke emissions. The proper personnel and equipment will be on site during the controlled burn.
Controlled burning is an important and versatile forest management tool that can mimic natural fire disturbances and safely reduce hazardous fuels buildup. Reducing fuels is key to limiting wildfire growth. During the historic fire season of last fall, some fires were quickly extinguished because of previous controlled burning that had occurred in those areas.
Habitat for a variety of wildlife can be improved through carefully executed controlled burns. Regular controlled burns promote the growth of herbaceous plants that provide food, such as fruit, for wildlife including important game animals such as deer and turkey.
Controlled burning is an essential ecological tool for restoration and maintenance of longleaf pine ecosystems in eastern North Carolina. In the Southern Appalachians, the Forest Service uses controlled burning to promote fire-tolerant native plants and restore threatened plants and communities, such as table mountain pine and mountain golden heather. The low- to medium-intensity burns create healthier, more diverse and more resilient forests.
All controlled burns are thoroughly planned and analyzed by a team of specialists to ensure that wildlife, fisheries, rare plants, and historic sites are not harmed. Burned areas can be unsightly at first; however, the forests will green up in a matter of months.