Prescribed Fire Program

Aerial view of a Controlled Burn in a longleaf pine forest.
A controlled burn at Moores Creek National Battlefield

NPS Photo

Why do we do prescribed burns at Moores Creek National Battlefield?

As in many other federal and state agencies the park will utilize the prescribed fire program to assist managers in forest protection and cultural landscape restoration. Recent research identified the need for prescribed fire to restore the landscape to that of the 18th century. A vascular plant survey further supported the use of fire as a management tool. The study indicated that the heavy fuel layer was contributing to the decline in the park's biodiversity.

The inherent danger for a catastrophic wildfire increases each year across the country due to fuel build-ups caused by insect damage, violent storms, and drought. Prescribed fire, unlike wildfire, is practiced when conditions are favorable for fire personnel to conduct the burn for the desired effects. The benefits of prescribed fire are immeasurable. Prescribed fire will greatly reduce the heavy fuel loads that currently exist as a result of forest pests and hurricanes. It will also enhance the biodiversity of the forest that will be beneficial to the wildlife populations within in the park. Botanists recently in the park indicated that the inventory of vascular plants would increase dramatically after the prescribed burns.

Visitors to the park can expect to see a burned area until the native grasses start to regenerate after the burn. Once a burning regime is established for the management of the cultural landscape, visitors can expect to see a forest similar to that of the 18th century.

Forests in Southeast North Carolina were greatly different than they are now. The forests were dominated by longleaf pines and swept by periodic wildfires. They had more open glades and hardly any underbrush. Through the process of planting new seedlings and conducting more controlled burns, the area will more closely resemble 1776.

Last updated: April 2, 2020

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