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Forest Service plans controlled burns

BLACKSBURG – The USDA Forest Service will be conducting controlled burns beginning soon and continuing through the fall and winter and into late spring. Controlled burns keep people and homes safe by reducing the buildup of dried leaves and wood in nearby forest land that can lead to uncontrolled wildfires. Safety is our top priority, and Forest Service fire managers will conduct controlled burns in the following areas only under appropriate weather conditions:

Montgomery County:

The 1,141-acre Brush Mountain West burn unit is located 2.5 miles north of Blacksburg and 2.5 miles south of Newport. The project area will be burned in four smaller sub-units to help fire managers control the possible impact of smoke. Trails in and around Pandapas Pond may be closed. For your safety, please follow posted signs and trail closures when they occur. The controlled burn is expected to have lingering smoke effects in the Poverty Creek Drainage. There may also be light smoke impacts to U.S. Route 460, Forest Road 10911 (Poverty Creek Road) and Forest Road 113. Depending on wind direction, residents and travelers in these areas may see or smell smoke.

The 50-acre Brush Mountain East burn unit is located adjacent to the Preston Forest neighborhood, 2.5 miles north of Blacksburg and 2.5 miles south of Newport. Smoke may impact areas in and around Preston Forest and along U.S. Route 460 depending on wind direction.

Pulaski County:

The 2,285-acre Tract Mountain prescribed burn area is located around the Gatewood Reservoir, north of the town of Pulaski. This burn area is divided into smaller sub-units. Residents of Pulaski, Radford and Christiansburg and travelers along Interstate 81 may 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.

Historically, fire has shaped our forests and has maintained the overall health of our landscape. 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 bear, deer, turkey and migratory birds.

For more information on our prescribed burn program, please contact the Eastern Divide Ranger District Office at (540) 552-4641, visit our website www.fs.fed.us/r8/gwj, or follow us on twitter: https://twitter.com/GWJNF1.

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