The U.S. Forest Service is about to begin a series of controlled burns that are designed to help preserve thousands of species in the national forests.
Burns are planned to take place between today and May 15, according to a forest service press release.
Local planned burns include:
• North Fork: Wise County, west of U.S. 23 on Pine Mountain on the Virginia-Kentucky state line, 5,000 acres.
• Flatwoods: Wise County, east of Route 72 and two miles south of Coeburn, 1,479 acres.
• Pound Gap: Wise County, four miles south of Coeburn along Little Stony Creek from Route 664 to Hanging Rock day use area, 1,650 acres.
Each burn may take several days to complete. Officials expect smoke to be visible during the burn, and for a short time after, local residents may see and smell smoke. The smoke is expected to settle in low-lying areas during the early morning.
The project areas will close temporarily while the burn is taking place.
Safety is the primary objective, according to the forest service. The fire experts are highly trained and have years of experience in protecting surrounding communities, themselves and the land they are working to restore. Fire specialists will closely monitor local weather conditions, such as wind and humidity, and adjust the schedule as needed to ensure the safety of firefighters and residents. Prior to implementing the burn, crews constructed firebreaks to ensure the fire does not leave the burn area.
Prescribed burns are designed to mimic historic natural fire as much as possible. Some individual trees may burn but the fire should travel mostly across the forest floor.
For more information, contact the Clinch Ranger District at 276/679-8370.