MORGANTON, N. C. (Feb. 25, 2014) — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will conduct a prescribed burn today on 100 acres of the Johns River Game Land in north Burke County. The prescribed burn will aid in ecosystem restoration of the land, wildlife habitat improvement, and reduce brush and debris that can cause dangerous wildfires.
“We will do everything we can to reduce the amount of smoke to nearby residents and neighborhoods,” said Dean Simon, a forester with the Wildlife Commission. “However, people will see smoke while we are conducting this burn and we want to make sure they know it is a prescribed fire on the game land with Wildlife Commission personnel and equipment on site. Prescribed fire is one of our essential, key tools in wildlife management, and many of our species and habitats need it to not only survive, but thrive.”
A system of regular prescribed burns is advantageous to the habitat of early successional wildlife that live in the region, such as quail, rabbits and songbirds. Many other species also benefit, including turkey and deer. 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.
Wildlife Commission staff prepare for each fire by creating a burn plan that includes smoke-management strategies, fire-control measures, acceptable weather parameters, and equipment and personnel needs. The plan also details how the ecosystem will benefit from fire. During and after the burn, staff and equipment, including emergency water tanks, will be on hand to monitor the landscape.