USFS Plans Prescribed Burns in Bath County
In a press release dated March 21st, the US Forest Service announced two planned prescribed burns in Bath County this spring. These burns are done in partnership with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy. 1,341 acres will be burned north of Hidden Valley, approximately 4.5 miles northwest of Hot Springs, and 180 acres will be burned approximately 5.3 miles southwest of Millboro Springs. They are scheduled for a 1 – 4 day period between early March and mid-May – specific dates have not been given – Allegheny Mountain Radio will inform listeners as soon as we know more.
Residents close to these burn areas can expect to smell smoke, which may settle in lower elevations in the early morning.
According to the press release, these burns are being done to help preserve nearly 300 threatened, endangered sensitive and locally rare wildlife and plants.
“We are rapidly losing young forests, open areas and critical wildlife habitat due to 100 years of fire suppression and an aging forest. For thousands of years, fire shaped our forests and wildlife and our lands actually need fire to be healthy. Research shows that fire naturally occurred every 3-15 years in our area. Low intensity 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 Forest Service stressed that safety was the primary concern during these activities. The personnel involved are highly trained and have years of experience, and will closely monitor local weather conditions, such as wind and humidity, and make adjustments as necessary. Prior to lighting the burn, crews construct and designate firebreaks to ensure the fire does not leave the burn area.
For more information, please contact the Warm Springs Ranger District office at 540-839-2521.