Officials from Congaree National Park, along with park partners are preparing to conduct a large prescribed burn Thursday (weather permitting). The burn will span over 384 acres, and is intended to help with habitat restoration and fuel reduction in accordance with the park’s fire management plan.
Crews from Kings Mountain National Military Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Buffalo National River, Cherokee National Forest, South Carolina Forestry Commission, and The Nature Conservancy will assist in conducting the burn.
Congaree National Park has been undergoing 35 years of prescribed burns, reintroducing fire to help maintain the upland areas of the park. According to officials, historically, natural low-burning fires allowed longleaf pines to flourish by eliminating faster growing hardwoods that might eventually crowd them out. Longleaf pines sustain a diverse ecosystem that supports endangered wildlife including the Red-cockaded woodpecker, a species that has not been seen in the park for two decades.
Regularly prescribed burns also help reduce the build-up of fuel that might burn intensely and destructively in the event of a wildfire, causing damage to park resources as well as neighboring property.
While the prescribed burn is being conducted, the Cedar Creek Canoe Trail will be closed to paddlers from South Cedar Creek landing down to the Congaree River. Access to Dawson’s Lake from South Cedar Creek Road will also be closed. All hiking trails will be open.
Park officials noted precautions have been taken to minimize impacts to park trails and park neighbors. However, smoke may be seen for several miles and may drift over roads and park trails near where the burn is taking place.