prescribed burn on a portion of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
is scheduled for Tuesday, March 27, provided that weather conditions
“As long as the conditions stay as forecast, a
burn is currently planned for the southern edge of the refuge,” said
Wildlife Refuge Specialist and Assistant Manager Art Beyer.
The prescribed burn will be on the southern in of
the refuge, adjacent to Rodanthe, and ending far south of New Inlet, so
visits to the refuge should not be impacted.
The burn is slated to be a small one, lasting
just a few hours or half a day. “It won’t take long at all, and it is
not planned to be a very large fire,” said Beyer.
Prescribed burns within the refuges serve
multiple purposes, depending on the time of year. Generally occurring
in the spring and the fall, the burns actually enhance safety in case
of a wildfire, controls vegetation, and creates more desirable habitats
for migratory birds.
One of the primary purposes of Tuesday’s burn is
to create a “safe zone” so that if a wildfire occurs and moves south,
there is a break in the landscape that will give firefighters time to
stop the wildfire before it impacts residences and structures.
But the prescribed fire will also enhance the
local habitat for a number of migrating birds that call the area a
temporary home, clearing out potentially invasive vegetation, and
promoting fresh green growth.
“It’s a wonderful tool, if the conditions are right, and it can be done safely,” said Beyer.
Spring is an ideal time to do the prescribed
burns, as the northeastern wind direction ensures that the fire and
smoke generally stays off of the highway. With that being said,
travelers should stay vigilant when driving through Pea Island on
Tuesday – assuming conditions allow the burn to occur – and should
watch for smoke on N.C. Highway 12.