Published On: Tue, Mar 29th, 2016

Park plans prescribed burn northwest of Cades Cove


Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Appalachian Piedmont Zone fire management staff plan to conduct a prescribed burn on approximately 888 acres of forested area northwest of Cades Cove beginning on Wednesday, March 30. The Stony-Arbutus Ridge fire operations are expected to take up to three days to complete, weather permitting.

A firefighter uses a drip torch to ignite during a prescribed burn in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  (NPS photo)

A firefighter uses a drip torch to ignite during a prescribed burn in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (NPS photo)

Visitors should expect to see firefighters and equipment in Cades Cove near Cooper Road Trail, Abrams Falls Trail, and the Elijah Oliver Cabin. To ensure visitor safety, the following trails and roads will be temporarily closed during burn operations and up to two days following the prescribed burns: Abrams Falls Trail from the Cades Cove Loop Road to Abrams Falls, Cooper Road Trail from Abrams Falls parking area to the intersection of the Beard Cane Trail/Hatcher Mountain Trail, and the Wet Bottom Trail from Cades Cove Loop Road to Abrams Falls parking area, including access to the Elijah Oliver Cabin.

“We are applying prescribed burning techniques which have proven to be highly successful in mimicking a natural ignition from Mother Nature,” said Assistant Fire Management Officer Shane Paxton. “We will have a very experienced team of fire managers on the ground to ensure the prescribed fire is meeting the desired objectives.”

The purpose of this prescribed burn is to reduce hazardous fuel accumulations and to restore the remaining pine and oak forest ecosystems. Trees throughout the area have been killed by pine bark beetles resulting in a high fuel load of dead and down woody materials. The prescribed burns will help reduce these hazardous fuels and brush, while also helping to increase pine and oak regeneration and improve forest structure. Fire reduces shade-tolerant species, opens the tree canopy to sunlight, and releases nutrients needed to promote a rich diversity of plant and animal species.

For more information on fire activity, temporary closures, and safe viewing areas, please visit the park’s website at or follow fire updates on social media on Facebook at GreatSmokyMountainsNPS/ or Twitter at