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Forest Service Plans Controlled Burns in Bath and Alleghany Counties

Hot Springs, VA (Feb. 10, 2020) - The USDA Forest Service will begin conducting controlled burns in Bath County and Alleghany County as soon as this week. Controlled burns improve wildlife habitat by restoring open woodlands and grasslands to the forest landscape. Fire specialists from the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and The Nature Conservancy are planning to treat several areas in Bath County, VA, and Alleghany County, VA, with cooperation from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the Virginia Department of Forestry. Fire specialists will complete these controlled burn projects between now and late May 2020.

Safety is our primary concern during these controlled burns. The fire specialists assigned to these projects 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 burning, crews construct and designate firebreaks to ensure the fire does not leave the burn area. The fire will move slowly in areas, but in grassy areas may spread rapidly with high flames for short periods of time within the containment lines. Some individual trees will burn, but the fire should travel mostly across the forest floor in wooded areas. In riparian areas, we expect the fire to burn slowly and go out on its own. Areas of the Forests will be closed for your safety during the controlled burns. Please follow posted signs and comply with trail closures when they occur. Depending on wind direction, residents and travelers in the area may see or smell smoke.

Fire managers will conduct controlled burns in the following areas only under appropriate weather conditions:     

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Name of Burn Unit, # of acres, Approximate location

Orebank, 2,016 acres, 5 miles north of Longdale Furnace, VA

Bolar Mountain, 1,744 acres, 6 miles west of Hot Springs, VA

Brushy Ridge, 680 acres, 8 miles north of Clifton Forge, VA

Tri-County, 1,128 acres, 2 miles southwest of Longdale Furnace, VA

Walton Tract, 180 acres, 3 miles northeast of Warm Springs, VA

Hidden Valley Fields, 65 acres, 3 miles northwest of Warm Springs, VA

Golden Winged Warbler, 57+ acres, 3 miles northwest of Warm Springs, VA

Warwick Mansion, 26 acres, 3 miles northwest of Warm Springs, VA

Cobbler Mountain, 549 acres, 3 miles northwest of Warm Springs, VA

Cubville, 912 acres, 4 miles northeast of Warms Springs, VA

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We are rapidly losing young forests, open areas and critical wildlife habitat due to 100 years of fire suppression and the natural aging of forests. For thousands of years, fire influenced the diversity of our forests and wildlife. Our lands need fire to be healthy. Research shows that fire naturally occurred every 3-15 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 about specific burn projects and their locations, or for our prescribed burn program in general, please contact the Warm Springs District at (540) 839-2521.

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