Forest Service to Conduct Prescribed Burns in the Clinch Ranger District

Prescribed burns reduce the risk of wildfire and improve wildlife habitat

NORTON, VA – February 28, 2022 — The USDA Forest Service will begin conducting prescribed burns near communities of Appalachia, Pound, Big Stone Gap, and Exeter, in Wise County, VA and Jenkins in Letcher County, KY as soon as next month, March 2022. Prescribed burns help keep the public and homes safe by reducing buildup of dried leaves and woody debris that lies in nearby forest land, which can lead to uncontrolled wildfires if not maintained and reduced. Additionally, prescribed burns improve wildlife habitat by restoring open woodlands and grasslands to the forest landscape. Safety is the Forest Service’s top priority, and Forest Service Fire Managers will conduct prescribed burns in the following areas only under appropriate weather conditions:

Wise County, VA and Letcher County, KY: The 5,033-acre North Fork Pound burn unit is located two miles west, northwest of Pound, VA and 3.2 miles south of Jenkins, KY. North Fork Pound Lake, Cane Patch Campground, Pine Mountain Trail, and the Red Fox Trail may be closed. For your safety, please follow posted signs and trail closures when they occur. The prescribed burn is expected to have lingering smoke in the communities of Jenkins and Pound and surrounding communities, as well as U.S. Route 23 in Virginia and U.S. Route 119 in Kentucky. Depending on wind direction, residents and travelers in these areas may see or smell smoke.

Wise County, VA and Letcher County, KY: The 1,300-acre Cable Gap burn unit is located three miles northeast of Pound, VA, 2.7 miles Southeast of Jenkins, KY and approximately 1.8 miles southwest of Gaskins and Burdine, KY. Pine Mountain Trail, Austin Cemetery, South Mountain Road, and part of White Oak Creek Road may be closed. For your safety, please follow posted signs and trail closures when they occur. The prescribed burn is expected to have lingering smoke in the communities of Jenkins and Pound and surrounding communities, as well as U.S. Route 23 in Virginia and U.S. Route 119 in Kentucky. Depending on wind direction, residents and travelers in these areas may see or smell smoke.

Wise County, VA: The 3,368-acre High Butte burn unit is located in the surrounding area of Keokee Lake: ten miles southwest of Appalachia, VA, 2.8 miles southeast of Keokee, VA, two miles south of Exeter, VA, and 4.75 miles west of Big Stone Gap, VA. Keokee Lake and its trail systems, and Keokee Lake Road may be closed. For your safety, please follow posted signs and trail closures when they occur. The prescribed burn is expected to have lingering smoke effects in parts of Wise County including the town of Keokee, and Exeter and surrounding areas. Depending on wind direction, residents and travelers in these areas may see or smell smoke.

Experienced fire managers will closely monitor local weather conditions, such as wind and humidity, and adjust the schedule as needed to ensure the safety of both crewmembers and local residents. Prior to lighting the burn, crews construct and designate firebreaks to ensure the fire does not leave the burn area. The burn will mimic historic natural fire as much as possible. Some individual trees will burn, but the fire should travel mostly across the forest floor.

The Forest Service works closely with partners and is able to accomplish this important habitat work thanks to help from The Nature Conservancy, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and the Virginia Department of Forestry, among others.
For thousands of years, fire shaped our forests and wildlife, and our lands need fire to be healthy. Low intensity prescribed burns create open areas where a diverse mix of grasses, plants and wildflowers grow, and provide valuable food and cover for wildlife such as bears, deer, turkey, and migratory birds.

For the most up-to-date information visit the inciweb site: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7945/

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