In the next six weeks, depending on weather conditions, rangers in the Pisgah National Forest plan a prescribed burn in the Pink Beds area of Transylvania County.
The burn area will be up to 2,000 acres in size. The purpose is to get rid of downed limbs and trees that could become a catalyst for forest fires and to improve wildlife habitat.
Forest Service Road 1206 (Yellow Gap Road), 476 (Wolf Ford Road) and sections of the Pink Beds Loop trail (118) and Barnett Branch (618) trail might be closed during the burn.
Approximately 24,000 acres of prescribed burns are scheduled this year on the four national forests across the state. The Pisgah, Appalachian and Grandfather ranger districts in Western North Carolina are working towards increasing the amount of acres treated annually as budgets allow.
Prescribed fire is a valuable wildlife and forest management tool, rangers say. Many ecosystems throughout North Carolina include fire-adapted species. Many native plants and animals need fire in their habitats to reduce competition from invading species, and to add nutrients back into the soil.
Prescribed burns can reduce buildup of shrubs and dead wood. Burning the same tract of land on a rotation of every three to seven years reduces the buildup of vegetation (fuel), decreasing the chance of severe wildfire. Smoke from wildfires usually has a greater impact on nearby communities and carries more pollutants than smoke from controlled burns.
Prescribed burning also helps support strategic goals of restoring ecological systems to their natural resilience, restoring native vegetation and protecting people and resources from catastrophic fires.