GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will hold a prescribed burn of approximately 660 acres on the western end of Cades Cove.
The national park said the burn will occur between Wednesday, Nov. 6, and Friday, Dec. 20. The operations are expected to be conducted on three separate days.
The park said late Tuesday that the burn near the Abrams Falls Trailhead would begin at noon Wednesday, Nov. 6, weather permitting.
“Over the last 20 years, park managers have conducted these burns during the spring and fall under specific prescription parameters to safely reduce fuels, restore meadow habitats, and maintain the historic landscape of Cades Cove,” the park said in a press release.
“Park staff closely monitor fire weather conditions including vegetation and soil moisture, wind speed and direction, temperature, and relative humidity to ensure that conditions meet the burn plan objectives for the site.”
The seasonal burns help native species grow and, in turn, provide cover and food for wildlife including deer, turkeys, and ground-nesting birds.
“The selected fields will be burned to restore meadow species, prevent the open fields from being reclaimed by forest, and to reduce hazardous fuels,” Fire Management Officer Greg Salansky said.
Visitors should expect to see firefighters and equipment along Hyatt Lane and the western end of the Cades Cove Loop Road. The loop road and historic structures will remain open to visitor use, but brief delays and temporary closures may occur to ensure public safety during burn operations.
Park staff will be present to answer questions during operations at overlooks and parking areas.
Visitors should expect to see fire activity and smoke during prescribed burn operations. Fire managers ask that motorists reduce speed in work zones, but refrain from stopping in the roadways. If smoke is present, motorists should roll up windows and turn on headlights.
For more information on the use of prescribed burns in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, visit the park website at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/wildlandfire.htm.