The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests fire specialists will burn as many as 2,170 acres in the Patterson Creek area of Botetourt County this spring and another 300 acres in the Fenwick Mines area of Craig County near Oriskany.

The prescribed burns are designed to provide habitat for thousands of species across Virginia and West Virginia, including nearly 300 threatened, endangered, sensitive and locally rare wildlife and plants, according to a news release from the U.S. Forest Service’s Eastern Divide Ranger District. The burns will also help mitigate future wildfire impacts.

The Forest Service has identified 2,170 potential acres in the Patterson Creek general area between Patterson Mountain and Price Mountain to be burned.

“We expect smoke to be visible, primarily between County Road 615 (Craig Creek Road) and Highway 220 (Botetourt Road),” the announcement said. Depending on wind direction, residents in New Castle or Fincastle may also smell smoke.

The prescribed burn in Craig County will take place between Bald Mountain and Little Mountain. The project boundary includes Mill Creek Road. Depending on wind direction, residents in New Castle and Oriskany may also smell smoke.

Burning will occur during the late morning and afternoon in April/May, and is heavily dependent upon weather conditions.

All prescribed burn areas will have information signs posted to inform the public on specific locations and restrictions. Project areas may be temporarily closed during prescribed fire operations to ensure public and firefighter safety.

“These prescribed burns will increase wildlife food sources including blueberry, huckleberry, acorn and hickory nuts,” the announcements said. “Prescribed burns also have the important benefit of keeping homes safe by reducing fuels to prevent large wildfires.”

Other burns in the Eastern Divide District are planned in Bland County where plans are to burn 1,200 acres and in Giles County where there are 6,543 potential acres in the Flat Top and Stony Creek general areas.

For more information on the prescribed burn program, contact the Eastern Divide Ranger District at (540) 552-4641.

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