The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests provide habitat for thousands of species across Virginia and West Virginia, including nearly 300 threatened, endangered, sensitive and locally rare wildlife and plants.
To help preserve these and other species as well as manage for hazardous wildland fuels, Forest Service fire specialists may conduct controlled burns this spring. Safety is our top priority and we will conduct controlled burns in the Craig County area only under appropriate conditions.
The burn area covers up to 270 acres in the Barbours Creek / Potts Mountain general area. The prescribed burn will take place near the road junction of Barbours Creek Road and F.R. 176.
Experienced fire specialists will closely monitor local weather conditions, such as wind and humidity, and make adjustments in the schedule as needed to ensure the safety of both crewmembers and local residents. Prior to lighting the burn, crews construct and designate firebreaks to ensure the fire does not leave the burn area. The burn will mimic historic natural fire as much as possible. Some individual trees will burn, but the fire should travel mostly across the forest floor.
We are rapidly losing young forests, open areas and critical wildlife habitat due to 100 years of fire suppression and an aging forest. For thousands of years, fire shaped our forests and wildlife, and our lands actually need fire to be healthy. Research shows that fire naturally occurred every 3-15 years in our area. Low intensity prescribed burns create open areas where a diverse mix of grasses, plants and wildflowers grow and provide valuable food and cover for wildlife. These planned burns help to make the land healthier for people, water and wildlife, such as bear, deer, turkey and many migratory birds and many endangered species. This burn will increase food sources including blueberry, huckleberry, acorns and hickory nuts. Prescribed burns also have the significant benefit of keeping homes safe by reducing fuels to prevent massive wildfires.
For more information on our prescribed burn program, contact the Eastern Divide Ranger District office at (540) 552-4641.
-Submitted by Dan McKeague