North Carolina

North Carolina

Prescribed Burns Lit at Refuges in North Carolina

March 2009

Firefighters from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have conducted 22 prescribed burns totaling 14,393 acres over the last couple of months at six national wildlife refuges in eastern North Carolina. During a typical year, the prescribed burning season for the area 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 in January.

Since then, firefighters have taken advantage of key weather conditions to safely meet burn objectives and to limit the smoke affecting local communities. Before lighting any burns, refuge personnel coordinate with the National Weather Service to closely monitor predicted weather. The refuges plan to conduct a few more small prescribed burns in the upcoming weeks before losing the opportunity for the season.

Last year, North Carolina’s 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 be lit 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.



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