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Great Smoky Mountains National Park To Burn 400 Acres Near Cataloochee


Prescribed burns are useful tools for improving wildlife habitat in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. NPS file photos.

Smoky conditions likely will be found around Cataloochee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park over the next few weeks as park crews work on burning through 400 acres of landscape.

The prescribed burns, in the Canadian Top unit adjacent to Cataloochee Valley in North Carolina, could begin as soon as Monday, weather permitting, and continue off and on through early November.

The two burn units are located on Bald Top adjacent to Mathews Branch near the Cataloochee Ranger Station. The units are part of the larger Canadian Top multi-year prescribed fire project, where fire managers have been conducting a series of low-intensity, controlled burns to restore the composition and open structure of the oak woodlands that occur on upper slopes and ridges within the site. These fire and drought-tolerant natural communities are important to wildlife and overall ecosystem health which are in decline throughout the Southern Appalachian region.

"One of the goals of the prescribed burn is to improve elk forage and habitat," said Shane Paxton, who leads the park's Wildland Fire Module. “This series of burns will reduce the number of fire-sensitive trees and shrubs while increasing the regeneration of oak and yellow pines along with increasing the cover and diversity of native grasses and wildflowers. Over time, this increase in herbaceous vegetation on the forest floor will improve forage for elk which graze the nearby meadows.”

Roads and trails will remain open to the public throughout the burn operations, although Little Cataloochee Trail may be temporarily closed if fire activity warrants. Visitors should expect to see smoke in the area.

The burn operations will be conducted by park staff and are being funded by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.


Okay, kiddos, how about getting back to some substantive comments about the actual story ... or just calling it a night? :-)

I agree Jim, a very positive step. Managed fire has many benifits for the the entire eco-system. Kudo's to the Great Smokies.

It's too bad the red wolf reintroduction wasn't successful at GSMNP. Assuming that red wolves prey on elk (although I don't know if they do), the reintroduction might have presenting an interesting ecology, especially if elk management becomes an issue inside the park.

You have made no point

My point is that noone has made a case for a "hidden agenda", and if the ultimate outcome is good - who cares.

What difference does it make as to their "true reason"?

For me, as with many others, true motivation is always important as is true intent. As a matter of fact, many laws in our country are based on intent, rather than outcome.

As I pointed out in my original post, I think, in this case, if there is ulterior motive, hidden agenda, covert reasons, etc. and whatever else you want to call it, the good outweighs the bad. However, I will alway hold that covert agendas are rarely good because, if you have to hide your true intent, maybe it isn't morally just in the first place.

I am not going to argue here with you, ec, because you have nothing to add to the conversation and there is nothing here about which to argue. You have made no point and you will continue to not read what is previously posted, instead picking out bits and pieces with which you can disagree.

MikeG - You make some valid points. As I posted originally, since I do not know their motivations, I am not going to guess at them. However, something having been done in the past has no relation to the how or why it is done in the present or in the future. I'm not stating anything related to RMEF in that, just that your argument that hunting "has been done in the past" is a fallacious argument.

You quote me but are just commenting on someone else's post??? I guess I was right, back to your hit and run.

It wasn't my question, gadfly. I was commenting on someone else's question. You, I try to just ignore.

"just tell us the truth up front" is what was asked for here.

And what proof do you have they aren't telling the truth up front - not that it makes any difference if the end result is positive for the elk. As usual I don't expect a response as I am sure you are engaged in your typical hit and run tactics.

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