Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Appalachian Piedmont Zone fire management staff plan to burn approximately 420 acres of fields east of Hyatt Lane in Cades Cove. Weather permitting, burn operations will occur between Tuesday, Oct. 4 and Thursday, Oct. 6.
Visitors should expect to see firefighters and equipment along Hyatt Lane and the Cades Cove Loop Road near the Primitive Baptist Church and the Methodist Church. The selected fields will be burned to both restore meadow species and to prevent the open fields from being reclaimed by forest. These seasonal controlled burns help perpetuate native herbaceous species that provide high quality cover and foraging opportunities for a diversity of wildlife including deer, turkeys, and ground nesting birds.
“Using prescribed fire as part of resource management at Cades Cove affords the opportunity for the Fire Division to participate in maintaining and preserving both natural and cultural values here at Great Smoky Mountains,” said National Park Service Burn Boss Chris Corrigan.
The Park contracts to mow about 1,000 acres of fields that are clearly visible from the Cades Cove Loop Road annually. Other fields that are less visible from the loop road, totaling around 1,500 acres, are kept open by burning or mowing on a three-year rotation.
The loop road and historic structures will remain open to visitor use, but brief delays and temporary closures of side roads may occur to ensure public safety during burn operations. Park staff will be present to answer questions during operations at overlooks and parking areas.
Visitors should expect to see fire activity and smoke during controlled burn operations. Fire managers ask that motorists reduce speed in work zones, but refrain from stopping in the roadways. If smoke is present, motorists should roll up windows and turn on headlights.
For more information on the use of prescribed burns in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, visit the park website at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/wildlandfire.htm.