Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Appalachian-Piedmont-Coastal Zone fire management staff plan to burn approximately 660 acres of fields on the western end of Cades Cove. Crews plan to conduct prescribed burn operations on Wednesday, Nov. 6, beginning at approximately noon in the old-field burn unit near the Abrams Falls Trailhead. The operations are expected to be conducted on three separate days. Media updates will be provided before burn operations.
Over the last 20 years, park managers have conducted these burns during the spring and fall under specific prescription parameters to safely reduce fuels, restore meadow habitats, and maintain the historic landscape of Cades Cove. Park staff closely monitor fire weather conditions including vegetation and soil moisture, wind speed and direction, temperature, and relative humidity to ensure that conditions meet the burn plan objectives for the site. 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.
“The selected fields will be burned to restore meadow species, prevent the open fields from being reclaimed by forest, and to reduce hazardous fuels,” said Fire Management Officer Greg Salansky.
Visitors should expect to see firefighters and equipment along Hyatt Lane and the western end of the Cades Cove Loop Road. The loop road and historic structures will remain open to visitor use, but brief delays and temporary closures may occur to ensure public safety during burn operations. Park staff will be present to answer questions during operations at overlooks and parking areas. Specifically, the crew plans to burn the following units depicted in orange on the attached map: 185-acre old field, 304-acre Tipton-Oliver field, 87-acre cemetery marsh field, and 90-acre Cable House field.
Visitors should expect to see fire activity and smoke during prescribed 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 https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/wildlandfire.htm.
– National Park Service release