Prescribed burns are carefully planned fires designed to help manage national forests.
Burns, for example, can promote new growth or clear away potential fuel for wildfires.
The Lone Pine Gap Burn on Monday, covering 954 acres, was one of four burns announced in March for the Nolichucky/Unaka Ranger District.
The others are:
• the Big Pine burn (conducted last month), covering 2,170 acres in the Clark Creek area of Unicoi County;
• the Deacon Creek burn (conducted last month), covering 1,528 acres in Washington County; and
• the Horse Creek burn, covering 988 acres in Greene County:
The Horse Creek burn could be postponed until next year, said Cheryl Summers, natural resource management team leader for the district.
Summers said the Forest Service is planning to conduct a small burn of about 200 acres today in the Rich Mountain area in Washington County.
Monday's burn was bounded as follows, the district said:
• East of Forest Road 54 between Paint Rock and Lone Pine Gap;
• South of the ridgeline between Paint Mountain Road and Paint Mountain Trail No. 7;
• West of Love Gap; and
• North of Forest Road 41.
Destroying timber killed by Southern pine
beetles was the primary objective of Monday's burn, a district office press release said.
Left alone, the dead timber could burn "with greater intensity" in a wildfire, the release said.
A secondary goal was to "improve wildlife habitat by stimulating fruit production and new growth."
Forest Service personnel used hand-held drip torches to start planned ground fires.
The Forest Service also starts fires by dropping liquid-filled spheres from a helicopter.
The spheres burst into flame after two liquids inside them react. The second liquid is injected by machine just before the sphere is dropped to the forest floor.
Monday's burn involved 38 people and four fire engines, the release said. The helicopter also provided aerial monitoring of the fires.
Those with questions concerning the Cherokee National Forest's prescribed fire program may call the Nolichucky/Unaka Ranger District office at 638-4109.