Hazardous Fuels Reduction Benefits Community, Habitat
In fall 2006 fire specialists conducted burns on two successive days at Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina. The prescribed burns, intentionally set under specific conditions, reduced the build-up of hazardous fuels around the community of Cedar Island and improved the health of marshes and woodlands in the burn units.
Fire crews from five national wildlife refuges traveled to Cedar Island and brought their heavy equipment with them. A contract helicopter and pilot flew in to meet the crew for the burn. Natural resource personnel from Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station assisted with the burns and local North Carolina Forest Service personnel were available as back-ups, as was the Cedar Island Volunteer Fire Department. The fire department’s water tower served as an engine refill location. Over the course of two days, overgrown weeds and brush on 1,014 acres was burned before the weather turned rainy.
During the burns, a half-mile section of Highway 12 experienced some visibility impairment from smoke, but because smoke management plan was included in the prescribed fire plan for each unit, fire crews were ready to respond. They quickly placed signs along the highway and used flashing lights on their vehicles to slow oncoming traffic. The smoke lasted about 90 minutes on each day.
Additional prescribed burns are planned for the refuge between now and September 2007. These prescribed burns will reduce fuel build-up and wildfire risk to additional areas around Cedar Island and Atlantic communities, as well as improve wildlife habitat on the refuge.
Contact: Bruce Freske at 252-926-4021.
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