Monday, August 29, 2016

Park service to burn fields near Grandview this autumn

Park service to burn fields near Grandview to help bird species.
Perhaps nothing evokes a memory of Indian Summer in West Virginia as well as the scent of bonfires, though the fires that burn in the national park near Grandview between September 6 and October 15.

Fire managers plan to burn approximately 26 acres in the “Carper Fields” area near Grandview, approximately five miles north of Interstate 64. The burn is expected to take several hours to complete, according to Julena Campbell, Public Affairs Officer and Chief of Interpretation & Cultural Resources for the New River Gorge National River.

Wind speed and direction, humidity, and other factors will be considered before the Fire Management Officer can determine the exact date of the burn, Campbell wrote in a press release.

Prescribed fires allow fire managers to conduct a safe burn under optimal conditions with sufficient resources available to meet specific objectives such as decreasing the risks from wildland fire to life, property and resources, restoring ecological processes, and meeting specific resource management goals.

The purpose of this prescribed burn is to prevent the transition of the field into a closed canopy forest, which will displace some declining grassland bird species. The park’s preferred management tool is to use prescribed fire to maintain this “old field” while still promoting the establishment of tall grass species favored by grassland nesting birds.

A prescribed fire is a planned fire. Fire managers work with other resource managers for several years planning and writing a specific prescription that includes parameters for smoke impacts, wind speed and direction, relative humidity, fuel moisture for live and dead burnable vegetation, and more. The plans also delineate the types and numbers of resources needed to safely conduct each burn and to support contingency plans.

Before burning, a designated set of conditions must exist including ideal air temperature, wind speed and direction, and relative humidity. Prior to implementing this burn, fire managers will evaluate current conditions and will only begin ignition if the prescribed conditions are within those parameters. Weather conditions will be monitored throughout the duration of the burn to ensure the prescribed fire is completed safely.

No trail or facility closures are expected to occur during this prescribed fire, Campbell indicated, though up-to-date information on any facility or trail closures and fire activity will be posted on the park’s social media sites.

For more information about the fire management program at the park, visit http://www.nps.gov/neri/learn/management/firemanagement.htm.

Read more: Discover hiking trails at Grandview

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