Chickasaw National Recreation Area will begin a series of prescribed fires starting on Friday, February 18th and lasting until April 1st (depending on weather conditions). The burns will occur at The Point, Nature Center, Five Lakes and Upper Guy Sandy areas of the park. These burns will be the final phase of a multi-month, $1.4-million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) project. The burns are a part of the National Park Service's prescribed fire program to help protect local communities from the catastrophic effects of uncontrolled wildland fires while promoting the natural ecosystem's ability to thrive. Prescribed fires improve forest health by promoting nutrient recycling, increasing habitat diversity, and reducing fuels that lead to unwanted, out-of-control wildfires. Habitat improvement from the fires will contribute to increases in species such as deer and turkey and thereby improve hunting opportunities. Residents near these burn areas also will benefit because the fuel from dead plant material that has accumulated over the years is reduced under controlled conditions. This significantly reduces the threat a wildfire would pose to people and property in and near the park. Thinning of the eastern red cedar will increase public safety by reducing the hazardous fuel load in the wildland-urban interface and move the ecosystem closer to a natural state.
|Incident Type||Prescribed Fire|
|Date of Origin||Friday February 18th, 2011 approx. 12:00 AM|
|Location||The burns will occur at the Point, Nature Center, Five Lakes and Upper Guy Sandy areas of the park|
|Incident Commander||Bruce Fields|
The prescribed fires will burn slash from thinned eastern red cedar cut during the summer and fall of 2010. The tree species creates a wildfire hazard, displaces other species from the natural ecosystem, impairs local air quality by producing allergens, and contributes to the general decline of the local water table. Under natural conditions eastern red cedar is limited by periodic natural fires.
Approximately 3,000 total acres may be treated. To date, fire managers have treated approximately 2,184 acres including the following burn units: P11 (164 acres), P17(48 acres), P18(34 acres), P12(126 acres), P13(158 acres), P16(58 acres), P19 (126 acres), the northern portion of F1 (approximately 50 acres of the 281 acre unit), the ESA burn unit (165 acres), the western portion of the Hunting burn unit (approximately 588 acres of the 1,019 acre unit), F1 (281 acres), F2 (165 acres), F3 (approximately 81 acres of the 131 acre burn unit), and F5 (140 acres). Fire managers still plan to burn the following units when conditions are favorable: Hunting, P14, P15, and F3. Each evening fire managers review forecasts for predicted wind direction and upper level mixing of smoke when determining which unit(s) to burn the following day. Temporary trail closures in the vicinity of the burn may be implemented on the day of ignition for visitor safety.
The project area will be broken up in to small blocks or units to take advantage of a variety of burn windows. The smaller units will allow fire managers to stop or slow or increase the pace of ignitions based unpon daily weather conditions. All of the firing will be done using hand ignition methods (drip torch or flares) in order to control the amount of fire on the ground at any one time. Intermittent delays along roadways may be possible. Please slow down, turn your lights on, and watch for firefighters working along the road. For your safety, please do not stop along the road in the vicinity of the burn.
Smoke from these prescribed fires may be visible in downtown Sulphur, Davis, Dougherty, Rock Creek, Veterans Lake, Buckhorn areas, Goddard Road, and along Chickasaw Trail but every effort will be made to minimize smoke impacts. Wind direction and upper level mixing of smoke will be utilized in an attempt to eliminate or reduce these inconveniences. Local residents and visitors in the area who are sensitive to smoke or have pre-existing respiratory problems should limit their outdoor activities and keep windows closed during the burn. If you would like to receive daily updates on which burn unit will be ignited and predicted direction of smoke impacts, please call 520-622-3165 and provide your contact information (phone, fax, or e-mail). If you have health problems that will be aggravated by smoke, we strongly encourage you to call the park for further assistance at 580 622-7220.