Date: May 22, 2014
Glen Jean, West Virginia, May 21, 2014 – The National Park Service will conduct a prescribed burn on approximately 17 acres of park property at the Backus Mountain location in southeastern Fayette County.The target window of opportunity to conduct this burn is Wednesday, May 26th to Saturday, May 31st, though this is weather dependent.This mountain forms part of the northern wall of the New River Gorge.It rises steeply more than 1,500 feet from the banks of the New River and Laurel Creek to 2,825 feet above sea level.Much of the mountain remains wooded and is a popular destination for hunters in fall and spring.
In order to ensure it remains under the control of firefighters, the burn will be carried out only if certain conditions are met, as described below.The area to be burned has an old logging road on the northern perimeter and has drainages on the east, west and south flanks. The objectives of the burn are 1) to restore and maintain the fire-adapted oak vegetation, and 2) to research prescribed fire in this type of environment.Following the burn, the area will be monitored to determine if prescribed fire promotes the growth of young oak seedlings.
Safely conducting a prescribed burn is based on frequent monitoring of weather conditions. Various factors such as wind direction, wind speed, smoke dispersion, and fuel moisture must be within a strict, pre-determined range. If any of these environmental parameters are not met, the burn will not proceed; if the conditions start favorably and change, the burn will be stopped.Under this prescription, the fire will move slowly through the area and stop at the established burn breaks. Smoke will disperse quickly from the area, although neighbors may smell smoke during and shortly after the burn period.
The park will have approximately twenty certified wildland fire fighters on hand to ensure that the fire is conducted safely and without incident. The fire is expected to last no longer than4-5hours.The research burn's location will not impact visitor safety or result in closures in the park.For questions, please contact Robin Snyder at 304-640-0724.
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Over one million visitors come to New River Gorge National River each year. Park rangers assist visitors and help them better understand the park and the park resources.