North Carolina

North Carolina

Coastal Refuge in North Carolina Plans Prescribed Burns

January 2009

As spring approaches, fire managers at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge are preparing to conduct prescribed burns on more than 12,000 acres scattered throughout the refuge. The planned burns will be lit under a specific set of conditions based on wind, humidity and atmospheric stability in order to have the best smoke dispersal situation and to make fires easier to control.

Last year, the neighboring Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge faced the largest wildfire in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Evans Road Fire burned more than 41,000 acres and emitted large amounts of smoke over several months. In contrast, each prescribed burn is designed to meet a certain set of objectives for the area such as to reduce the threat of wildfire to private property, to limit smoke impacts to local communities from wildfires or to improve wildlife habitat.

During a typical year, the prescribed burning season for the refuge, located in eastern North Carolina, begins in the fall and runs through mid-spring. However, dry weather conditions last fall were not conducive to burning, so efforts were put on hold until more favorable weather patterns settled into the area. Now, firefighters plan to take advantage of the change in weather to start burning.

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is home to many types of wildlife, including endangered species such as American alligators, red wolves, and red cockaded woodpeckers. The 152,000-acre refuge also provides unique wetland habitat for waterfowl and migratory birds.

  Alligator Burn  
Smoke safely dissipates away from a 2008 prescribed burn on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Burns planned for 2009 will be lit under similar conditions to help keep smoke above roads and communities.

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