The Nature Conservancy plans a controlled burn at its Bluff Mountain Preserve. Because controlled burns are largely weather-dependent, the burn could occur any time between November and early December when the weather is appropriate.
The 87-acre burn will take place near the peak of Bluff Mountain. The goal is to restore high elevation red oak trees. Young oak trees aren’t growing well at Bluff Mountain. That’s a problem, because acorns are a valuable source of food for wildlife. The burns are designed to reduce shrubs that are preventing oak seedling growth. Removing shrubs will also encourage more flowers and other plants to grow on the forest floor.
Naturally occurring fire was once common across the mountains, but a focus on fire suppression in the last century has disrupted the natural balance of the ecosystem. Controlled burns will restore that balance. Controlled burning, which is also known as prescribed fire, is a science. A burn plan has been created – laying out the ecological goals for the fire, how to achieve those goals and what conditions are necessary for a successful controlled burn. Burns can’t occur unless weather conditions are favorable in order to limit the impact of smoke on surrounding communities and prevent the potential for fire escape. Controlled burning with low-intensity fire also removes fuel that could stoke wildfires, which could endanger nearby communities.
In addition to Conservancy staff, burn staff will include employees from the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, North Carolina Forest Service, and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, who plan to burn a similar 98-acre site across the valley on Three Top Mountain Game Land likely just before the Bluff Mountain site.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 18 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 117 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. The North Carolina Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and its 21,000 members have protected nearly 700,000 acres in the state. Visit us on the Web at nature.org/northcarolina.