Park plans prescribed burn at Canadian Top

By: Jennifer Stone Email
By: Jennifer Stone Email

CATALOOCHEE VALLEY, NC. (WVLT) -- Fire management officials in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park plan a 155-acre prescribed burn in the Canadian Top unit adjacent to Cataloochee Valley in North carolina.

The burn is scheduled to start Wednesday, and could go on intermittently through early May. The tract of land is part of a larger prescribed burn unit in Canadian Top. This is part of a series of controlled burns planned over several years, in order to restore the oak and pine woodlands in the area.

Fire and drought-tolerant ecosystems are in decline throughout the Southern Appalachian region, so the burn unit is designed to maintain wildlife and overall health of the region.

"One of the goals of the prescribed burn project is to improve elk forage and habitat," stated Great Smoky Wildland Fire Module Leader and Burn Boss, Shane Paxton. This series of burns will reduce the number of fire-sensitive trees and shrubs while increasing regeneration of oak and yellow pines, and increase the cover and diversity of native grasses and wildflowers. Over time, this increase in vegetation on the forest floor will improve forage for elk which graze the nearby meadows.

Roads and trails will remain open to the public. Visitors should expect to see smoke in the area.

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