Alligator River/Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
P. O. Box 1969
Manteo, North Carolina 27954

Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131

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News Release

November 9, 2009

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge Announces Start of 2009/2010 Prescribed Fire Season

Tom Crews, a Fire Management Officer for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, announced today the beginning of the 2009-2010 season for prescribed burning on Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges. Many national wildlife refuges and other conservation lands use controlled burns to manage wildlife habitat and reduce natural fuels - the plant material on the ground and available to burn. According Crews, “Burning under controlled conditions allows us to better manage smoke and fire intensity. Our goals are to improve wildlife habitat and reduce danger from wildfires. Some people don't realize that plants and wildlife are actually helped by fire. But if we just wait for a lightning strike, we can't choose the conditions or location. That situation often puts both people and habitat at risk.”

Controlled or prescribed burns are fires intentionally ignited under specific conditions to achieve management objectives. Under normal circumstances, the prescribed fire season begins in the fall and runs through mid-spring. But, sometimes units may be burned outside this time period to accomplish particular objectives. The attached map shows the areas slated for prescribed burning this season on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. These areas include eight different fire compartments spread across the refuge. The northern end of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is also scheduled to be burned this season.

Impacts to the visiting public are expected to be minimal; however, concerned individuals may contact the Refuge Office on any given day to ask about burning plans for that day. Hunters should be especially attentive if an area they plan to hunt is scheduled for burning this year. Motorists are advised to drive carefully, especially if they see smoke, and reduce speed, be patient, and watch for fire equipment or firefighters along roads. Questions or comments on the prescribed burns at Alligator River or Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges may be directed to Kelley Van Druten at 252-473-1131 extension 235, or

One month after a controlled burn at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, white ibis look for insects in a burned area.
Photo Credit: USFWS.

Firefighters at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge use a terra-torch to shoot flames across a canal to ignite a burn unit. Photo Credit: Robert Mickler.