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Firefighters to Burn off Underbrush at Hot Springs National Park

/ Source: KARK 4 News

Smoke will be rising from Hot Springs National Park this week when a prescribed fire is set ablaze.

The National Park Service is planning to conduct the burn operation this week, on North Mountain and area trails if weather conditions permit.

The North Mountain prescribed fire is set to be completed sometime between Wednesday and Friday. The prescribe fire will take place on the 16-acre circular area formed inside the overlook drive, northeast of Hot Springs Mountain Tower. Trails to be closed are Gorge Trail, Upper and Lower Dogwood Trail, and Gorge Trail at Dead Chief Trail. The North Mountain Loop road will also be closed.

There are many reasons for using prescribed fire in this area, said Josie Fernandez, Hot Springs National Park Superintendent. Oak and pine trees need fire to thrive, or they may be overtaken by shade-tolerant species such as maples and poplars. Grasses and other plants that provide food and cover for wildlife generally need sun, and fire creates openings in the canopy to meet that need. We also hope to reduce nonnative species, and increase native species in the park, by restoring this natural process to the ecosystem. And just as importantly, we will reduce the fuel load or burnable material to help lessen the impacts of a future wildland fire.

The prescribed burn operation will be conducted under precise weather conditions by well-qualified fire management professionals. One of the planning priorities was to minimize smoke impacts to surrounding communities, though smoke-sensitive individuals may want to avoid outside activities on the day of the operation.
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