New River Gorge Fire Managers hold prescribed burn at Grandview

GRANDVIEW, WV (WOAY) – Firefighters with the New River Gorge, Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Shenandoah National Park all join forces for a prescribed burn in Grandview.

Carpers Field is a large grassland area located in Grandview, right by the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. 

Every few years, fire managers with the New River Gorge will hold a prescribed burn there, where they intentionally set fire to the grasslands. 

Dave Bieri, the Public Information Officer with the New River Gorge Park Service says it all depends on waiting for the perfect day.

“We get a day where the humidity is right,” Bieri said. “We want it to be dry enough for the fire to catch and move, but not too dry where it’s easy to lose control.”

A prescribed burn is meant to prevent potential damage to an ecosystem. In this case, they’re trying to protect the native grasslands. 

“This burn we do mainly to maintain the grassland habitat. There are native grasses that live there and they’re important for native wildlife.”

The burn prevents the field from transitioning into the nearby closed canopy forest, a process that could displace declining grassland bird species in the area. The burn also gets rid excess brush and helps reduce the risk and damage of future wildfires.

“This fire allows us to maintain that native grassland by cutting down on exotic species that move in and also burning off some of the woody shrubs that start to take over.”

The process for conducting a prescribed burn involves first holding a test burn to ensure conditions are right. And then when they’re ready to go, they set a fire line and establish a perimeter to maintain the flames. 

“They’ve got drip torches to walk along and ignite a fire line, and people prepositioned in place to control the fire to have it go where it needs to.”

The burn took a few hours to complete and saw roughly 40 acres set aflame. 

The last time Carpers Field saw a prescribed burn like this one was in the Fall of 2017.

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