The USDA Forest Service spent Easter weekend and the early portion of this week conducting prescribed burns on the Tellico and Ocoee Ranger Districts.

Smoke may have been visible along roads and in surrounding areas.

Areas burned in Monroe County include the following:

• Wildcat – between Wildcat Creek Road and the Tellico River Road

• Waucheesi – along the Waucheesi Mt. Road (FSR 126C).

• Miller Ridge – between Lost Cove Branch Road, Tavern Branch Road and Rafter Road.

• Maple Knob – between Tellico River Road and Bald River Road

• Green Cove – between Tellico River Road and Bald River Road

• Buck Branch – between Cherohala Skyway and the Tellico River Road

The Forest Service manages prescribed fire by evaluating several factors, including the impact of smoke on humans. Weather, fuels, ignition options and local factors that will reduce/mitigate or influence smoke production duration, quantity, density and direction are analyzed before prescribed burns are conducted.

The Cherokee National Forest maintains a notification list for people with smoke sensitivities. You can be added to this list by contacting the Cherokee NF Ranger District office in your area.

“At any point during a prescribed burn a decision can be made to stop burning if conditions are not right,” Fire Management Officer for the Cherokee National Forest Trent Girard said. “Safety is top priority of every prescribed burn. Before we begin any burn, managers consider the safety of people, property and the natural resources.”

Growing conditions in east Tennessee allow burned areas to quickly green up within a relatively short period of time. In most cases, shortly after a burn is conducted, a casual observer would scarcely notice that this tool has been used, according to officials.

To some people the word fire creates visions of great devastation and waste. While this concept can be true of wildfires, it is the opposite with prescribed fires.

Before prescribed burns are conducted on national forest land, a “prescription” is written by Forest Service 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. After a prescription has been approved, fire management personnel go about the task of planning and conducting the burn.

According to forest service officials, prescribed burning is one of the most effective and cost-efficient land management tools available. Prescribed burns reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires by removing vegetation (fuel) that accumulates and creates a fire hazard.

Prescribed fire improves habitat for wildlife by opening the forest floor up to light and encouraging the growth of native grasses, forbs and other plants that provide food and shelter for many species. Certain trees cannot tolerate shady conditions created by other species.

Prescribed fire reduces certain types of vegetation that compete for light, moisture and nutrients. It also reduces the leaf litter on the forest floor which often prevents seed germination for natural reproduction of desirable tree species and other vegetation.

As weather conditions allow, prescribed burning will be going on throughout the spring. Prescribed burning information is posted on the Cherokee National Forest web site at https://www.fs.usda.gov/cherokee/

Information will be recorded on the Tellico Ranger District line (Tellico Plains) at 423-397-8455.

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