Controlled burn planned at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve in Cary

From staff reportsJanuary 22, 2013 

— Weather permitting, the N.C. Forest Service plans to start a fire in Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve on Tuesday to keep the preserve’s 158 acres in good health.

The agency will set and manage a fire about the size of two football fields to burn off dead leaves and debris on the ground that could lead to larger, unplanned fires, like one that burned about 50 acres in the preserve in the 1980s.

“Wildfires are a common threat to structures in many areas of North Carolina, especially during drought and times of high winds,” said Mark Johns, program specialist at the preserve. “Prescribed burns are a proven and safe way to reduce fuel loads in forests and other areas.”

Planned fires are also used to reduce invasive species, to increase the number of low-growing plants, and to control disease. A Cary fire truck will be on hand to ensure the fire remains under control.

The preserve is named for the Eastern hemlock trees that grow along north-facing bluffs above Swift Creek, far from their normal range in the foothills and mountains of North Carolina. The preserve will remain open to visitors during the controlled burn, but certain sections of its three miles of trails may be closed.

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