Prescribed burn planned on the Grandfather Ranger District to reduce wildfire risk and improve forest health

Last Updated on April 12, 2023 7:07 pm

Nebo, NC, April 10, 2023 — The U.S. Forest Service is planning a 4196-acre prescribed burn on the Grandfather Ranger District in Burke County in the coming week to reduce the risk of wildfires. This burn is the Steels Creek burn unit located directly North of Morganton, NC along HWY 181 from Steels Creek Rd (FSR 228) to New Gingercake Rd (FSR 496). Trail closures will be in effect for the Mountains to Sea Trail through the burn unit from New Gingercake Rd to Steels Creek Rd.

The dates for the burn and the actual number of acres burned will depend upon weather conditions. Burning days are changeable because the proper conditions are needed; wind and relative humidity are key factors in fire behavior, safety, and smoke control. Prescribed burning will only occur when environmental conditions permit. During the burns, proper personnel and equipment will be on site.

All prescribed burns are thoroughly planned and analyzed by a team of specialists to ensure that wildlife, fisheries, rare plants and historic sites are not harmed. Habitat for a variety of wildlife species can be improved through carefully planned and executed prescribed burns. Regular burns promote the growth of plants that provide food for wildlife including important game animals such as deer and wild turkey.

Prescribed burning is an important and versatile forest management tool that can mimic natural fire disturbances and reduce underbrush and flammable vegetation, which is key to limiting wildfire risk. This will be the third attempt to find a window to burn the Steeles Creek unit in the past month. Even with favorable weather conditions, smoke models for past attempts predicted smoke impacts to roads and communities, prompting fire managers to call off operations. This week, models are favorible for both weather and smoke dispersion.

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Updates will be posted on our website at

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