USFS Prescribed Burn In Bath County

The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests provide habitat for thousands of species across Virginia and West Virginia, including nearly 300 threatened, endangered, sensitive and locally rare wildlife and plants, according to a news release by the United States Forest Service on February 20th, 2017.  To help these and other species, Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy fire specialists are burning 180 acres in Bath County, Virginia.  Burning will occur over a one to four day period between late February and mid-May.  Smoke is expected to be visible, particularly near Wallahatoola Road.  Residents in Millboro Springs and the highway 42 corridor may smell smoke.  The smoke will most likely settle in lower elevations during the early morning.

The prescribed burn will take place approximately 5.3 miles southwest of Millboro Springs, Virginia and is accessible by County Road 632, also known as Wallahatoola Road.

The news release goes on to state that safety is the primary concern during this prescribed burn.  The fire experts assigned to this burn 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 make adjustments in the schedule as needed to ensure the safety of both crewmembers and local residents.  Prior to lighting the burn, crews construct and designate firebreaks to ensure the fire does not leave the burn area.  The burn will mimic historic natural fire as much as possible.  The fire will move slowly in areas, but in grassy areas, may spread rapidly with high flames for short periods of time with containment lines.  Some individual trees will burn, but the fire should travel mostly across the forest floor in wooded areas.  In riparian areas, the fire is expected to burn slowly and go out on its own.

The United States Forest Service continues in the release by  stating that the nation is rapidly losing young forests, open areas, and critical wildlife habitat due to one hundred years of fire suppression and an aging forest.  For thousands of years, fire shaped forests and wildlife, and lands actually need fire to be healthy.  Research shows that fire naturally occurred every three to fifteen years in our area.  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.

For more information on the prescribed burn program, The Warm Springs District phone number is 540-839-2521.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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