Spring prescribed fires planned in Cades Cove 

GATLINBURG, Tenn.— Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Appalachian Piedmont Coastal Fire Management Zone staff plan to burn approximately 925 acres of fields in the Cades Cove area. Weather permitting, burn operations will occur between Monday, February 13 and Friday, March 3.  

Deer, turkeys, ground-nesting birds, and other species benefit when plants they depend on for food and cover are rejuvenated using seasonal prescribed fire. The restoration work using prescribed fire takes months of planning and coordination. Added support from resources and firefighters from across the country helps the park meet specific objectives. 

“We are fortunate to have assistance from Conservation Legacy wildland firefighters for our spring prescribed fires,” said Fire Management Officer Brian Tonihka. “Their skilled application of prescribed fire is critical to the health of the natural ecosystem at Cades Cove and the safety of our visitors.” 

Firefighters plan to burn the following units labeled on the attached map:  Maple Branch, Tipton Oliver, and Cemetery Marsh. The three units are the last to be treated with prescribed fire in the Cades Cove area this prescribed fire season. Firefighters successfully burned about 250 acres last fall in the Cable House and Sparks units to target woody plant species that were encroaching into the fields.  

Cades Cove Loop Road and historic structures will remain open to visitors during burn operations, but brief delays may occur to ensure public safety. Sparks Lane may be closed, and other temporary road closures or traffic control may be implemented, especially if crews and equipment are working along the edge of the road or if smoke causes unsafe driving conditions. Visitors should expect to see firefighters and equipment along the loop road, Sparks Lane, and Hyatt Lane.  Fire managers ask that motorists reduce speed in work zones, and refrain from stopping in the roadways. If smoke is present, motorists should roll up windows and turn on headlights. 

Over the last 20 years, park managers have conducted burns during the spring and fall under specific parameters, or prescriptions, 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. The weather and precipitation forecast in the East Tennessee area over the next few weeks will improve the opportunity to meet prescription parameters. 

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

About Brad Jones

Brad is the Owner/Operator of BBB TV 12, and has been with the company since August of 1996. Brad is a 1987 graduate of Coalfield High School and a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Communications. He won the 1995 broadcast production student of the year award. Brad worked at Shop at Home, Inc. a home shopping network that was located in Knoxville, TN from 1993 - 1995 and then at Via TV (RSTV, Inc.) from 1995 - 1996. After some freelance work in Nashville, Brad joined the BBB Communications staff in August of 1996. A short stint at WVLT TV as a news photographer was in 2001, but he continued to work at BBB TV as well. Brad is married to Nicole Jenkins Jones, a 1990 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, who works at Oak Ridge Gastroenterology and Associates in Oak Ridge. They have 3 kids, Trevor Bogard, 27, Chandler 22, and Naomi 13. On December 12, 2013 they welcomed their first grandchild, Carter Ryan Bogard. Brad is also the assistant boys basketball coach at Coalfield High School for the past 11 years. In 2013-14 the Yellow Jackets won their first district title since 1991 and just the 4th in school history.

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