By Harley Nefe
If you’re out and about in Boone, Blowing Rock, Banner Elk and other parts of the High Country, you’ve probably noticed smoke in the area. The drift smoke is coming from controlled burns the U.S. Forest Service is conducting.
The U.S. Forest Service planned three prescribed burns located on the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests today, March 11.
The Grandfather Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest, is conducting a 1,400-acre burn in Burke County in the Rose’s Mountain unit, which is causing the smoke in Watauga County and other areas of the High Country.
The Tusquitee Ranger District, Nantahala National Forest, is also conducting a 500-acre burn at Hanging Dog Boat Ramp in Cherokee County and a 750-acre burn in the Fires Creek area in Clay County.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, the goal of these controlled fires is to reduce the risk of wildfires and help create a healthier, more diverse and more resilient forest that can better support wildlife.
However, it should also be noted that the National Weather Service out of Blacksburg, Virginia, released a special weather statement for an elevated wildfire risk beginning early this afternoon and into the evening for Watauga and Ashe counties as well as Alleghany, Caswell, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes and Yadkin.
According to the statement, dry fuels, low relative humidity, above normal temperatures and increasing winds this afternoon are working together to produce good conditions for wildfires to ignite and spread.
The statement further said, open burning at this time is considered extremely dangerous and any burning should be postponed.