Some fires are beneficial

Published 5:13 pm 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, 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.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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