Archived Story

Some fires are beneficial

Published 5:13pm Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. With some fires, even Smokey Bear would not sound the alarm.

That’s going to be the case at Goose Creek State Park this summer as prescribed burns occur when weather and conditions allow such burns, according to John Fullwood, park superintendent.

Parka areas where burns will occur extend from near the main park entrance to the campground and swim beach. Park visitors will not be allowed to enter those areas during a burn event. If weather parameters do not meet burn requirements, the park plans to conduct a burn on the next appropriate day. The burns are in cooperation with the N.C. Forest Service.

“With the weather, there are parameters that we have to stay within,” Fullwood said recently. “What prevented us from having a burn last month was the humidity getting too low. We need to be between about 30 to 60 percent humidity. Other than that, wind plays a big factor. We’re responsible for any smoke we produce, to make sure that smoke is going away from populated areas,” Fullwood said. “Ideally, we’re looking for humidity between 30 and 60 percent and a north or a northeast wind.”

Fullwood said prescribed burns are needed on a regular basis.

“It’s beneficial for the resource. It helps to reduce fuel loads. In the event we had a wildfire, it would help lessen the impact of that. Some plants in the park require fire to reseed … like the longleaf pine,” Fullwood said.

Prescribed burns are used as a resource management tool by the state parks system, according to an email from park personnel. Some plant communities and animal species rely on periodic fire for their existence. The prescribed burns also reduce the amount of potential wildfire fuel and help protect the park’s resources and neighboring landowners if lightning, arson or carelessness sparks a wildfire.
In order to minimize smoke and assure the fire is controlled, the low-intensity, prescribed burn will only be carried out under strictly defined weather conditions of a fire management plan, according to the email. On the selected day, the burn will begin in the late morning and will likely end by mid-afternoon.
On days of a burn event, an alert will be posted on the Goose Creek State Park page of the division’s website, www.ncparks.gov. Signs will also be posted on Camp Leach Road alerting people that a
burn is in progress. For further information, call the park office at 252-923-2191.

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