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U.S. Forest Service Encourages Public Comment by Jan. 31 for Prescribed Burn of Linville Gorge Wilderness

Linville Map Burn
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By Jesse Wood

Jan. 10, 2013. The U.S. Forest Service encourages public comment on the proposed prescribed burn project in and around the Linville Gorge Wilderness by the end of the month.   

The total potential burn area is approximately 11,000 acres in the wilderness and 4,800 acres outside of the wilderness in the Pisgah National Forest.

The project would restore the natural fire regime, manage unnatural buildup of fuels and restore fire dependent communities and woodlands, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

According to a May 2012 letter from the U.S. Forest Service to interested citizens, the Linville Gorge likely burned from lightning strikes every five to ten years before the 20th century, but advanced fire suppression techniques have altered the scope and frequency of naturally-occurring fires, “resulting in a decline in native fire-adapted and fire-dependent communities.”

It also resulted in dangerously high fuel loads that can increase wildfire intensity to such heights that threaten firefighter and public safety as well as property within and adjacent to the Linville Gorge.  

A recent press release encouraging public comment through Jan. 31 states the benefits of the controlled burn:

  • Restored mountain golden heather and Heller’s blazing star, which are federally listed as threatened plant species, as well as several tree species important to the Linville Gorge ecosystem, such as shortleaf pine and pitch pine.
  • Prescribed fire will also help regenerate table mountain pine. Table mountain pine requires very high heat to open the cones and release seed.
  • Reduce dense understory vegetation and better protect surrounding communities by reducing the risks of high-severity wildfire. 

Comments can be sent to: comments-southern-north-carolina@fs.fed.us

Learn more about the proposed project at: www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=37966