Archived Story

Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge plans prescribed burn

Published 12:56pm Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to conduct a prescribed burn
today, today on 347 acres of the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife
Refuge. The burn will take place on the Pungo Unit of the refuge,
south of Pungo Lake near the intersection of Hyde Park and South Lake
Roads, approximately 10 miles north of Belhaven.
The prescribed burn will reduce the amount of fuel in this Pocosin
shrub, reducing the likelihood for damaging wildfire and reducing
risks to nearby communities and natural resources. The burn will also
improve habitat for American black bears. The Pungo Unit supports one
of the densest populations reported anywhere in the scientific
literature.
Public safety is the highest priority during a prescribed burn. The
roads normally open on the refuge this time of year will remain open
during the prescribed burn, but visitors to Pocosin Lakes National
Wildlife Refuge should be aware of smoke and fire equipment in the
area. Fire managers have been carefully monitoring the burn unit to
ensure that soil moisture and predicted weather conditions match the
Prescribed Fire Plan. Weather will be frequently monitored during the
prescribed burn.
Much of the Pungo Unit consists of Pocosin wetlands, a unique type of
wetland characterized by high-organic-content soils (called peat) and
southeastern shrub bog vegetation. The thick understory includes
shrub species such as red bay, sweet bay, loblolly bay, gall berry,
and wax myrtle. The overstory is usually pond pine that can be
anywhere from fully stocked to widely scattered.
For more information about this or other prescribed burning on the
refuge, contact Fire Management Officer Ed Christopher,
edwin_christopher@fws.gov, or Wildland Urban Interface Specialist
Kelley Van Druten, kelley_vandruten@fws.gov.

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