CLEVELAND, Tenn. (WATE) — USDA Forest Service managers say firefighters with the North Zone of the Cherokee National Forest are “expecting a window of opportunity” from Oct. 21 through Dec. 15 to conduct several prescribed burns. The burns will affect areas of the forest in Cocke, Greene, Unicoi, and Washington counties; as well as areas in Johnson, Carter and Sullivan counties.
Officials say prescribed fire events are used in the Cherokee National Forest for several reasons, including to reduce fire hazards, improve habitat, and help manage desirable vegetation. This series of prescribed burns will be dependent upon weather conditions.
Prescribed fires are implemented in accordance with a written burn plan that prescribes specific weather and smoke dispersion conditions to exist before crews proceed, according to the forest service. Crews are responsible for igniting vegetation, monitoring control and spread of fire and smoke, ensuring the fire is held by control features, and monitoring fire behavior.
The following prescribed burns are planned:
Unaka Ranger District (423-638-4109)
- Meadow Creek (700 acres) – Cocke County – Northwest side of Meadow Creek Mtn along Meadow Creek Rd (FSR 404).
- Capps Branch (750 acres) – Cocke County – Southside of Meadow Creek Mtn below the Meadow Creek Fire Tower along Meadow Creek Rd (FSR 404) also just north of Hwy 107. Bubbling Springs shooting range will be closed during this burn.
- Little Clifty A/B (850 acres) – Cocke County – Southwest side of Meadow Creek Mtn along Meadow Creek Trail (FS 6) west of Bubbling Springs Shooting Range.
- Devils Kitchen (590 acres) – Greene County – Northwest of Rough Branch along Upper Rough Branch Rd (FSR 93).
- Brushy Branch (170 acres) – Greene County – At the end of Brushy Branch Rd (FSR 31B) along Little Paint Creek.
- South California Creek (430 acres) – Unicoi County – North of California Creek at the head of the drainage along Bumpus Cove Rd (FSR 190).
- Green Knob (530 acres) – Unicoi County – Between Rich Mtn and Green Knob along Bumpus Cove Rd (FSR 190).
- Canlot (50 acres) – Unicoi County – Top of Granny Lewis Creek along FSR 189A.
Watauga Ranger District (423-735-1500) Johnson, Carter, and Sullivan Counties
- Job Corps (500 acres) – Sullivan County – North and east of Jacobs Creek Job Corps Center off Denton Valley Rd (Hwy 32) and Pine Mtn Rd (FSR 4002).
- Wheeler Spur (280 acres) – Sullivan County – Between Wheeler Spur Rd (FSR 6090) and Wyatt Hollow Rd (FSR 32).
- Harpers Creek (170 acres) – Sullivan County – Northeast side of Little Pine Mtn along Wyatt Hollow Rd (Hwy 32) and Pine Mtn Rd (FSR 4002).
- Lake Edge A/B (170 acres) – Sullivan County – Peninsula at the southwest side of South Holston Lake just southwest of Little Oak Campground.
- Gum Hollow (70 acres) – Carter County – South of intersection of Dry Creek Road (Hwy 361) and Gap Creek Rd (Hwy 362) on FSR 5311.
- Heaberlin (390 acres) – Johnson County – On the east side of McQueen Gap Rd (FSR 69).
Forest Service managers also said Thursday that because of changing weather conditions, it is difficult to say exactly what days that the burns will be conducted. In many cases, officials say the decision to burn cannot be made until the day of the burn.