Fire managers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park plan to begin conducting a series of controlled burn of fields in the interior of Cades Cove on Tuesday March 11, 2008 if weather conditions permit.  Park managers plan to burn three to five different parcels totaling up to 300 acres this week.

The selected fields are being burned as part of a cost-effective strategy to prevent the open fields from being reclaimed by forest.   The Park contracts to mow about 950 acres of fields that are clearly visible from the Cades Cove Loop Road twice a year.  Other fields that are less visible from the Loop Road, totaling around 1,000 acres, are kept open by burning or mowing on a three year rotation.

             Park firefighters and a Park engine will be assigned each day to ignite the grass lands and to make sure the fire stays within its prescribed boundaries.  Strips of grass surrounding each field slated for burning have been mowed short to provide containment lines. 

            “At this point we do not expect to have to close the Cades Cove Loop Road, but will monitor the situation for smoke or other safety hazards. Sparks Lane is currently closed while the Park works to correct drainage problems.” said Park Fire Management Officer Mark Taylor.   “The public, of course, will notice smoke in the valley but it will dissipate quickly and not unduly impact their visit.” he said.

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