Park plans prescribed burn along Wears Valley boundaries – The Cherokee One Feather
Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Coastal Appalachian, Piedmont and Coastal Zone fire management staff plan to conduct a 175-acre prescribed burn along the park boundary in the Wears Valley to the Metcalf Bottoms picnic area. The burning will take place from Monday March 8 to Thursday March 11, depending on the weather. Prescribed burn operations are expected to last two days.
A team of National Park Service (NPS) forest fire specialists will perform the prescribed burn to reduce the amount of flammable brush along the park boundary with residential homes. This unit was successfully burned down in 2009 and is part of a multi-year flammable material reduction plan along the park boundary with residential areas.
“A long-term goal of this project is to maintain fire and drought resistant trees like oak and pine on the upper slopes and ridges of the park,” said fire ecologist Rob Klein. “Open oak and pine forests provide habitat for a diverse set of plants and animals, and the health of these sites benefits from frequent, low-intensity burning.”
The planned burn area is bounded by Wear Cove Gap Road, Indian Camp Branch, Little River, and the park boundary along the Roundtop Trail. In anticipation of the burn, NPS personnel cleared brush and fallen leaves along the park boundaries and the Indian Camp branch, which will serve as fire control lines to keep the fire within intended limits. Resources from the US Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs and local fire departments in Blount and Sevier counties will provide assistance throughout the burn operations.
Closures for firefighters and public safety include Wear Cove Gap Road, from the Metcalf Bottoms Bridge to the park boundary at Wear Cove Gap, a section of the Roundtop Trail, and the Little Brier Gap Trail parking area. Staff will be on-site to provide limited access to residents as needed. Visitors and residents should expect to see smoke in the area.
If operations go as planned, the crew can move operations to Cades Cove later in the week to complete prescribed burn operations along Sparks Lane for the 90-acre Rowans Branch unit. An update will be provided if the crew adds this unit to the schedule next week. For more information on this burning unit, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/news/park-plans-cades-cove-prescribed-burn-for-thursday-february-25.htm.
– Release of the National Park Service