Blue Ridge Parkway managers plan to conduct a controlled burn totaling approximately 80 acres within a tract of forest near the Haw Creek Overlook (Milepost 380) in Asheville, North Carolina. This operation will occur today, and possibly tomorrow. In order to reduce the amount of smoke produced, managers plan to burn the area over a span of 1 to 2 days.
The goals of the "Haw Creek Burn" are to use fire to reduce forest fuel accumulations and to restore a healthy and diverse ecosystem. Fire managers plan to use a series of low-intensity controlled burns over a number of years to restore the composition and open structure of the oak and pine forests that occur on upper slopes and ridges within the site. These plant communities, which need occasional fires to regenerate, are important to wildlife and overall ecosystem health, and they are in decline throughout the Southern Appalachian region. This series of burns on the Parkway will reduce the number of fire-sensitive trees and shrubs while increasing populations of oak and yellow pines, and increasing the cover and diversity of native grasses and wildflowers.
This is the first prescribed fire the Blue Ridge Parkway has attempted since completing a Fire Management Plan in 2005. Fire professionsals from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, and the NPS Southeast Regional Office have helped write the plan, prepare the site, and will manage the fire. Parkway firefighters from North Carolina and Virginia will also be on the scene.
The Parkway motor road may be closed during firing operations. The Mountains-to-Sea trail will be closed during and after burn operations as firefighters extinguish hot spots along the trail.