Archived Story

Wildlife refuge plans prescribed burn today

Published 8:03pm Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Special to the Daily News

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to conduct a prescribed burn 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 black-bear 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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