Prescribed burn postponed at park

By Tom Joyce -

PILOT MOUNTAIN — A prescribed burn that was planned Monday at Pilot Mountain State Park has been postponed, and could be held later this week instead.

“We have had to reschedule it due to weather predicting poor smoke dispersion,” Park Superintendent Matt Windsor explained Monday regarding an operation that had been announced Friday.

The plan called for burning 65 acres on the mountain above the family campground as part of an ongoing forest-management program.

However, park personnel said weather conditions Monday were not conducive to launching such a burn, which occurs within a strict set of weather and other parameters.

This includes winds being of a certain velocity to transport smoke from the scene, in contrast to stagnant air conditions that can allow it to linger around the park area and possibly obscure travel on roads such as U.S. 52 nearby.

Windsor said Friday that a possible alternate day for Monday’s burn was this Wednesday, but that was still up in the air when the park superintendent updated the situation Monday.

“It may occur later this week or next week,” Windsor added.

When conducted, the prescribed burn above the family campground will require closing the Grindstone Trail located near that section.

Traffic on the park road also will be restricted to one lane of travel for the duration of the burn.

If smoke obscures the roadway, the road will be closed above Family Campground Lane.

During the burn, which according to previous reports is to begin in late morning and likely end by mid-afternoon, U.S. 52 will have Department of Transportation safety signs alerting motorists to the prescribed fire and asking them not to report the incident.

In addition to the prescribed burn this month, another has been announced for the north river section of Pilot Mountain State Park around mid-November.

The locations of both operations are adjacent to previously burned areas and are contained within hard fire lines consisting of roads or cleared firebreaks.

Prescribed burns are used to prepare sites for replanting, reduce the risk of wildfires, control insects and diseases and increase the productivity of a forest, officials say. The controlled burns are employed as a resource-management tool in many locations by the state parks system.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693.

By Tom Joyce

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