UPDATE: The U.S. Forest Service has issued this alert:

Prescribed Burn on Bearpen Mountain Postponed

The U.S. Forest Service has decided to postpone the 1,200-acre prescribed burn in the Bearpen Mountain area of the Pisgah Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest, that was scheduled for today.

Fire managers cancelled the prescribed burn because of increased humidity levels and cloud cover, which reduce the quality of burning conditions.

The Forest Service expects to conduct the burn before the end of March. The day before the burn, the agency will close Avery Creek Road, as well as Coontree Loop and Bennett Gap trails.

For more information about the prescribed burn, visit: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/nfsnc/news-events/?cid=STELPRDB5349191

Original press release from the U.S. Forest Service, released Feb. 9:

The U.S. Forest Service plans to implement a 1,200-acre prescribed burn in the Bearpen Mountain area of the Pisgah Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest, tomorrow (Feb. 10).

The Forest Service will implement the prescribed burn to reduce woody debris in the forest, which will help prevent catastrophic wildfires. The prescribed burn will also improve wildlife habitat.

The prescribed burn will take two to three days to complete and will be confined to Bearpen Mountain. The southern end of the burn will be Hwy 276 at the intersection of Avery Creek Road, extending to the intersection of Coontree Loop Trail and Hwy 276. The northern portion of the burn is Coontree Gap. The burn area will be contained by Avery Creek, Hwy 276, and Coontree Loop and Bennett Gap trails.

Release continued here:

The safety of the public and firefighters is the number one priority. The Forest Service will notify the public when the decision is made to conduct the burn. The agency will close area trails and roads the day before the prescribed burn. The public is asked to heed signs posted at trailheads and roads and to stay away from burn sites and closed roads and trails.

Prescribed fire is a valuable wildlife and forest management tool. Many ecosystems throughout North Carolina include fire-adapted species. Numerous native plants and animals need fire in their habitats to reduce competition from invading species, and to add nutrients back into the soil.

Prescribed burns can reduce buildup of shrubs and dead wood. Burning the same tract of land on a rotation of every three to seven years reduces the buildup of vegetation (fuel), decreasing the chance of severe wildfire.

Prescribed burning also helps support strategic goals of restoring ecological systems to their natural resilience, restoring native vegetation, and protecting people and resources from catastrophic fires.

For more information on fire management by the National Forests in North Carolina, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/nfsncand click on “Fire and Aviation Information.” Sign up to receive alerts by email concerning prescribed fires at http://www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc.

For further information, contact the Pisgah Ranger District at 828-877-3265.

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Angie Newsome was the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at anewsome@carolinapublicpress.org.

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