The Forest Service plans to conduct prescribed burns over 20,000 acres throughout the 656,000-acre Cherokee National Forest during 2020.
A significant portion of the prescribed burning is planned for early spring, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a news release Monday.
“We are about to begin a very busy prescribed burning effort in the near future. We want to ensure that people are aware of what we are doing. Because of changing weather conditions it is difficult to say exactly what days we will be burning. In many cases we really won’t know exactly when we are going to burn until the day before. As weather conditions allow we will be burning throughout the spring,” said Trent Girard, fire management officer for the Cherokee National Forest.
According to the Forest Service, while it might appear to many people that an intentionally set fire is wasteful, the term prescribed fire means what it implies: a recommended treatment conducted on national forest land based on a documented “prescription” written by resource specialists.
A prescription identifies objectives of the proposed burn, examines possible environmental impacts, addresses smoke dispersal, describes how and when the burn will be conducted and under what weather conditions it is appropriate for the burn.
The alternative is the potential for wildfires that usually burn with great intensity and cause damage to the forest environment and can be a threat to life and property.
Reasons for prescribed fire in Cherokee National Forest include hazardous fuel reduction by burning grass, leaves and downed trees; site preparation to encourage growth of native species, and the promotion of new plant growth beneficial to animals.