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Prescribed Burns Planned Over Next Several Days on the Cherokee National Forest

Contact(s): Terry McDonald (423) 476-9729


CLEVELAND, TENN, April 11, 2018 – The USDA Forest Service plans to conduct several prescribed (controlled) burns in various areas of Cherokee National Forest during the period of April 11-14. Whether or not the burns are carried out on these days will depend on site-specific weather conditions. Click here for complete News Release...

The safety of the public and firefighters is the highest priority during a prescribed burn. The public is asked to heed signs posted at various locations and to stay away from burn areas. All prescribed burns follow smoke management guidelines to mitigate impacts to the public.

Areas to be prescribed burned from April 11-14 are:

North Cherokee National Forest - Unaka Ranger District (423– 638-4109), Watauga Ranger District (423-735-1500)

Chestnut Ridge:1,000 acres in Cocke County near Max Patch and the Gulf Tract approximately 15 miles SE of Newport and 7 miles E of Hartford, TN.Smoke may be visible in surrounding areas and from I40.

Cook Branch:501 acres in Johnson County at north the end of Watauga Lake near theSinkMountain boat ramp approximately 2 miles SE of Highway 67. Smoke may be visible in surrounding areas and from HWY 67 & 167.

Irishman’s Branch: 172 acresin Unicoi County 1.5 miles NE of Unicoi TN off Highway 107. Smoke may be visible in surrounding areas and from HWY 107.

South Cherokee National Forest -Tellico Ranger District (423-253-8400), Ocoee Ranger District (423- 338-3300):

Big Branch:2,694 acres in Monroe County 0.5 mile east of Turkey Creek Road (NFSR 35) to Long Branch, between Tellico River Road (NFSR 210) and Highway 165—Cherohala Skyway. Smoke may be visible in surrounding areas and from HWY 165.

Gravelstand: 1,605 acres in Monroe County approximately 6 miles NE of Coker Creek and 7 miles SE of Tellico Plains between the Basin Creek Road (NFSR 384C) and Wildcat Creek Road (NFSR 126) near the Bald River Gorge Wilderness. Smoke may be visible in surrounding areas and from HWY 68 and HWY 165—Cherohala Skyway.


Bearpen Lead: 379 acres in Polk County approximately 4 miles W of Turtletown off NFSR 23 in the vicinity of Rymer Camp. Smoke may be visible from Turletown and surrounding areas.

Prescribed fire is used in Cherokee National Forest for several reasons including: 1) Hazardous Fuel Reduction: Fuels (vegetation) such as grass, leaves, brush, downed trees, and pine needles accumulate and create a fire hazard. By burning an area under favorable conditions these fuels are removed, decreasing the amount of vegetation that is available to burn during a wildfire. Reducing heavy vegetation build up helps protect communities from the threat of wildfire, as well as being beneficial to the forest. 2) Wildlife Habitat: Prescribed fire promotes new sprout and herbaceous growth that serves as beneficial food and cover for many animals. 3) Site Preparation: Certain trees cannot tolerate shady conditions created by other species. In areas being managed for pines, prescribed fire reduces certain types of vegetation that compete for light, moisture, and nutrients. Prescribed fire also reduces the leaf litter on the forest floor which often prevents seed germination for natural reproduction of desirable vegetation, including native grasses.

If you have questions concerning the Cherokee National Forest prescribed fire program in your area contact one of the following Ranger District Offices: Ocoee/Hiwassee (Benton, TN) – 423-338-3300; Tellico (Tellico Palins, TN) – 423-253-8400; Unaka (Greeneville, TN) – 423-638-4109; Watauga (Unicoi, TN) – 423-735-1500.