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Forest Service does controlled burns in county

LEXINGTON – Feb. 13-19 is Prescribed Fire Awareness Week in North Carolina and the N.C. Forest Service is using this time to get some needed burning done.
Crews with the N.C. Forest Service conducted controlled burns on more than 560 acres across four counties reducing potential wildfire fuel, improving wildlife and improving the overall health of the forests.
The burns took place in Stokes, Surry, Rowan and Randolph counties. The largest burn conducted was in Rowan County on Alcoa property for the purposes of reducing hazardous fuel loads that could have created a dangerous situation in a wildfire.
Another approximate 40- acre hazard reduction burn was also conducted in Randolph County.
In Stokes County, personnel from the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation joined with the N.C. Forest Service to conduct a prescribed fire on 10 acres in Hanging Rock State Park and approximately 30 acres on adjoining private land. This burn helped to improve wildlife habitat and consequently reduce fuel loads as well.
In Surry County an 80-acre burn was also conducted on private lands for the purpose of improving wildlife habitat.
Prescribed fires are conducted to protect the public and sustain forestlands. Fueled by grass, leaves, pine straw and other forest debris, low-intensity fires once occurred naturally every few years in fire-adapted ecosystems across North Carolina. These fires reduced buildup of dangerous fuel – such as pine straw, sticks and other forest litter – that put people and communities in jeopardy from wildfire. They also reduced competition from invading species and added nutrients back into the soil, allowing native plants and animals to thrive.
Burning the same tract of land every three to seven years reduces the buildup of vegetation, decreasing the chance of severe wildfire. Without these recurrent burns, fuel buildup can lead to large, uncontrollable wildfires. Smoke from wildfires usually has a greater impact on communities and carries more pollutants than smoke from controlled burns.
Managers create a burn plan for the fire, which includes smoke management details, fire control measures, acceptable fuel moisture and weather parameters, and the necessary equipment and personnel required to safely conduct the burn. The plan also details how the forestlands and ecosystem will benefit from the fire.
For more information on Prescribed Fire Awareness Week, contact the N.C. Prescribed Fire Council at www.ncprescribedfirecouncil.org or Brian Haines, public information officer with the N.C. Forest Service, at 919-857-4828.

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