Buffalo National River is planning to conduct prescribed fire operations between October 7 and November 31, 2015. Weather conditions permitting, prescribed fires will be completed in the vicinity of Pruitt, the Gene Rush Wildlife Management Area, and Tyler Bend. Fuel reduction, wildlife habitat improvement and ecological restoration are the primary reasons for conducting the prescribed fire operations.
“Fire is a natural process and has been a part of the Arkansas Ozark landscape for thousands of years,” said Fenn Wimberly, National Park Service Fire Management Officer. “Prescribed fire is a way to restore fire to ecosystems in a carefully planned manner, using specific and controlled weather and personnel guidelines to protect public safety and property while improving habitat for native plants and animals and reducing the threat of uncontrolled wildfire.”
Buffalo National River’s prescribed fire program has been in place since the early 1980s in support of maintaining fire-dependent ecosystems and species, such as the native wildflower Newton’s Larkspur and the Collared Lizard. Without cyclic burning these components of the natural landscape would disappear, reducing the biological diversity of the park.
Fire managers hope to minimize smoke impacts to surrounding communities, though smoke-sensitive individuals may want to avoid outside activities on the day of the operation. Other agencies who typically undertake prescribed burns at this time of year include the United States Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, the Arkansas Forestry Commission, and Arkansas Game & Fish Commission.
For more information on prescribed fire or the Buffalo National River Fire Management Program, contact Prescribed Fire Specialist, Tony Collins at 870/365-2772.