CMC Position Statement on Prescribed Fire in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area
January 25, 2013
The Grandfather Ranger District is planning an extensive prescribed burn in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. This wilderness area consists of 11,786 acres. Burning would restore the natural fire regime, manage unnatural buildups of fuels, and restore fire dependent communities and woodlands. Several trails exist in this Wilderness area including the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, Pinch-In Trail, and the Short-off Trail which we have scheduled hikes.
The Carolina Mountain Club is a hiking, trail maintaining and conservation non-profit organization. Our goal is to provide the best possible hiking experience throughout western North Carolina and the surrounding area. We also support the protection of hiking experiences by giving the highest priority to conserving and restoring the health of ecological systems through which trails pass. To us, this includes support for the use of prescribed burning to reduce the risk of large, damaging wildfires that might occur in the Linville Gorge Wilderness area.
We are aware that the Forest Service uses a number of approaches and techniques to ensure that prescribed burns are conducted in a safe manner that minimizes the local impacts. In the Linville Gorge Wilderness, the Carolina Mountain Club strongly encourages that these are routinely implemented and safeguards are held to the highest standards. In particular, protection of the existing trails and the associated viewsheds is of importance to us, as the desire is to not construct new roads or large firebreaks in the Wilderness. Where existing trails are used as firebreaks, we ask that the Forest Service protect trail tread from damage by machines, water and erosion and restore trails to prior conditions.
Because of the Club’s extensive trail maintenance and construction experience we offer to help answer questions that you may have with regard to trail protection.