Forest Service prepares for upcoming prescribed burn season

Release Date: Feb 6, 2024

Roanoke, Va, February 6, 2024 – This spring, firefighters across the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest will conduct prescribed burning to reduce hazardous fuels, restore wildlife habitat, and improve forest health.

Prescribed fire is started intentionally by forest managers to better protect communities by removing the amount of leaf litter and downed trees to reduce the potential of large, high-intensity wildfires. Prescribed fire is controlled by trained fire personnel working under the right weather conditions, including temperature, humidity, wind, moisture of the vegetation, and conditions for the dispersal of smoke. Fire is lit once conditions are met to ensure public safety, including air quality. 

“With last fall’s active fire season on our minds, we recognize the need for prescribed burning more than ever. These prescribed burns are not just tools for improving forest health but also for creating safer, more fire-resistant communities,” said Forest Supervisor Joby Timm. 

Prescribed burns yield multiple forest health benefits. They help remove competing vegetation, which allows remaining trees to grow faster and be more resistant to pests and disease. Prescribed burns also create areas where a diverse mix of grasses, plants, and wildflowers grow, which provides valuable food and cover for wildlife such as bears, deer, turkeys, and migratory birds.

If conditions allow, Fire Managers will burn up to 40,000 acres across the forest this year. Many of these prescribed burns are conducted through partnerships with the Virginia Department of Forestry, The Nature Conservancy, and other collaborating agencies.

More information will be released as burns are scheduled across the forest. For updates visit or