RALEIGH, N.C. (Feb. 8, 2010) – The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is helping to raise awareness of the benefits of fire to wildlife and plants during Prescribed Fire Awareness Week. Agency representatives are participating in several educational events, including a seminar at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, titled “Fire on the Mountain.”
Governor Beverly Perdue has declared February 7 to 13 Prescribed Fire Awareness Week, the first state-wide recognition of prescribed fire in North Carolina.
“Prescribed fire is an important tool for forestry and wildlife habitat management,” said N.C. Prescribed Fire Council Chairman Dean Simon, a wildlife forester with the Commission. “Many plants and animals need prescribed fire to survive and thrive. Prescribed burns also reduce the threat of large, dangerous wildfires by reducing fuels. The governor’s proclamation underlines the importance of prescribed fire to all North Carolinians.”
Fire once occurred naturally across North Carolina. Low-intensity fires burned every few years, fueled by grass, leaves, pine straw, and other forest debris. They kept the forest open, allowing sunlight to penetrate to its floor and reducing buildup of dangerous fuel loads. Fire suppression altered the landscape, allowing fuels to accumulate and putting people and communities in jeopardy.
There are many fire-dependent ecosystems across the state from the mountains to the coast, including most oak and pine forests. Without fire, many native plants and animals will disappear due to lack of food, habitat and conditions needed for them to exist.
Prescribed burn participants receive extensive training to ensure that they are careful to protect surrounding communities, themselves and the land they are working to restore. Fire experts do a great deal of work before the burn. They create a burn plan, which includes smoke management details, fire control measures, acceptable weather parameters, equipment and personnel needs. The plan also details how the ecosystem will benefit from fire.
The N. C. Prescribed Fire Council brings together natural resource professionals, public and private land managers, and others who support the use of prescribed fire. More information about the council, including a list of events slated for Feb. 7 to 13, is available at http://ncprescribedfirecouncil.org/.
About N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission
Since 1947, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has been dedicated to the conservation and sustainability of the state's fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use, and public input. The Commission is the state regulatory agency responsible for the enforcement of fishing, hunting, trapping and boating laws and provides programs and opportunities for wildlife-related educational, recreational and sporting activities. To learn more, visit www.ncwildlife.org.
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