We all grew up hearing Smokey Bear tell us we were the only ones who could prevent forest fires. Any uncontrolled fire can cause damage, but a planned and controlled fire is a valuable practice to maintain the natural balance of our lands. In fact, Native Americans used fire for centuries to clear land for hunting, travel and to plant crops. Early settlers followed the example. Today fire is used to maintain and enhance these fire adapted landscapes.
Fire helps maintain open areas in our parks.
Part of the Virginia State Parks mission is to be good stewards of our natural resources. Controlled burning is one tool we use to meet that goal. Every aspect of the conditions surrounding a planned fire is analyzed. The relative humidity, temperature, wind speed and wind direction are all looked at as well the slope and characteristic of the land. The plan is so detailed that the number of crew members needed on the fireline is even preset. Firelines are created to keep the fire in a designated area. Each fire must have a certified burn boss on site. All burn plans must go through several levels of review before being approved.
Working with fire is not something we take lightly. Park employees must meet classroom and physical training criteria to be certified to work on the fireline. All burn crew members are trained to national guidelines. Safety is key.Lake Anna State Park, Spotsylvania, VA.
Park employees attend a Fire Refresher Training
So, if you happen to notice the beauty of an open field or woodland at a VA State Park, remember it didn’t happen by chance. There is a team of people willing to put in time and effort to maintain that view.