FAQ: The effects of WNC’s 2016 fall fire season

Did the fires hurt wildlife?

The impact will unlikely be large enough to affect overall populations, and long-term the fires will result in a flush of green in the understory that will ultimately benefit wildlife.

Will the fires increase the chance of flooding and landslides?

With more than a month elapsed since the report’s Dec. 12 completion and multiple heavy rains in the rear-view mirror, there haven’t seemed to be any issues. Many areas that the team completing the report initially observed to have water-repellent soil seem to be absorbing water much more readily.

Is a spring fire season likely?

To a degree, the fire season could depend on the scruples of people in the area. Of the 20-plus fires that burned through WNC last fall, only one is thought to have resulted from natural causes. The rest were caused by humans, either accidentally or on purpose.

How did the fires affect the Appalachian Trail?

South of the Smokies, 58 miles of the A.T. run through North Carolina. Of those 58 miles, 26 miles were part of the burned area. Of those 26 miles, about 90 percent experienced pretty mild burning, about the same level you’d get with a prescribed burn. However, about 10 percent burned hot, consuming wooden anti-erosion features on the trail and creating hazards like holes in the ground and dead trees.

More questions and details here…


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