US Forest Service plans prescribed burns in Virginia and West Virginia this spring

The USDA Forest Service began conducting controlled burns in Bath County in February and will continue those burns in Bath and Alleghany Counties in the next few months according to a recent press release from the US Forest Service.

Controlled burns improve wildlife habitat by restoring open woodlands and grasslands to the forest landscape. Fire specialists from the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and The Nature Conservancy are planning to treat several areas in Bath County, VA and Alleghany County, VA with cooperation from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the Virginia Department of Forestry. Fire specialists will complete these controlled burn projects between now and late May 2020.

Safety is their primary concern during these controlled burns. The fire specialists assigned to these projects are highly trained and have years of experience in protecting surrounding communities, themselves and the land they are working to restore. Experienced fire specialists will closely monitor local weather conditions, such as wind and humidity, and will adjust the schedule as needed to ensure the safety of both crewmembers and local residents.

Prior to burning, crews construct and designate firebreaks to ensure the fire does not leave the burn area. The fire will move slowly in areas, but in grassy areas may spread rapidly with high flames for short periods of time within the containment lines. Some individual trees will burn, but the fire should travel mostly across the forest floor in wooded areas.

In riparian areas, they expect the fire to burn slowly and go out on its own. Areas of the Forests will be closed for safety reasons during the controlled burns. Forest Service personnel ask that you please follow posted signs and comply with trail closures when they occur. Depending on wind direction, residents and travelers in the area may see or smell smoke.

These burns are being conducted because young forests, open areas and critical wildlife habitat are being lost due to 100 years of fire suppression and the natural aging of forests. The lands need fire to be healthy according to the forest service. Prescribed burns create open areas where a diverse mix of grasses, plants, and wildflowers grow and provide valuable food and cover for wildlife. These planned burns help to make the land healthier for people, water, and wildlife, such as bear, deer, turkey and many migratory birds and many endangered species.

The Monongahela National Forest will also be conducting prescribed burns on about 1,500 acres in Pendleton, Randolph, and Pocahontas counties from March through May, weather permitting.

Big Mountain – west and southwest of Cherry Grove in Pendleton County

Middle Mountain – south of Huntersville in Pocahontas County

Cheat Summit Fort – west of Huttonsville in Randolph County

This year the Forest Service will also be burning brush piles at various locations in Pocahontas and Pendleton counties to enhance grazing allotments and improve wildlife habitat. Pile burning may take place at any time of the year, when conditions permit.

Each burn area will be closed to the public on the day of the burn, and may be closed for several days after to ensure public safety. Signs will be posted on roads near all prescribed burn areas before and during burning. Residents and Forest visitors may see and smell smoke for several days. If you encounter smoke on the highway, slow down, turn on your vehicle’s lights and drive appropriately for the conditions.

Prescribed fires are conducted under specific weather conditions and designed to accomplish pre-determined forest management goals. The Monongahela National Forest follows strict guidelines for conducting prescribed burns, and takes into consideration environmental factors such as temperature, humidity and wind. If any environmental conditions are not within limits, the burns will be postponed.

In Bath and Allegheny counties, fire managers will conduct controlled burns in the following areas only under appropriate weather conditions:

Name of Burn Unit # acres Approximate location
Orebank 2,016 5 miles north of Longdale Furnace, VA
Bolar Mountain 1,744 6 miles west of Hot Springs, VA
Brushy Ridge 680 8 miles north of Clifton Forge, VA
Tri-County 1,128 2 miles southwest of Longdale Furnace, VA
Walton Tract 180 3 miles northeast of Warm Springs, VA
Hidden Valley Fields 65 3 miles northwest of Warm Springs, VA
Golden Winged Warbler 57+ 3 miles northwest of Warm Springs, VA
Warwick Mansion 26 3 miles northwest of Warm Springs, VA
Cobbler Mountain 549 3 miles northwest of Warm Springs, VA
Cubville 912 4 miles northeast of Warms Springs, VA


For more information about specific burn projects and their locations, or for our prescribed burn program in general, please contact the Warm Springs District at (540) 839-2521.

Here is the information about prescribed burns in the Monongahela Forest.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

Current Weather