Prescribed burns to start next month in Croatan forest

Published: Friday, December 21, 2012 at 11:09 AM.

The U.S. Forest Service plans to begin prescribed burns in the Croatan National Forest in January.

About 25,000 acres in the Croatan will be part of the prescribed burn program in 2013, according to a release from the forest service.

The controlled burns benefit native trees and plant species while maintaining habitat for endangered species like the red-cockaded woodpecker, according to the release.

Forest fires are part of the natural ecosystem, and the burns planned by the forest service are intended to mimic those fires that occur in nature, according to the release.

The burns will be conducted under tight parameters, and modeling is to be used to reduce the effects of smoke in the area, according to the release.

In June, the forest service lost control of a prescribed burn when an unexpected burst of wind and windshift sent embers into an area that was not supposed to be part of the burn area. The resulting wildfire burned about 21,000 acres, closed roads in the forest, including Catfish Lake Road, and spread smoke throughout the area for weeks.

Such incidences are rare, according to the forest service, with less than 1 percent of prescribed burns getting out of control.

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