LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (News Release) – On Friday, March 9, officials with Arkansas State Parks and the Agriculture Department’s Forestry Commission will conduct a strategic prescribed burn at Petit Jean State Park (Conway County).
The burn is planned for 170 acres on the west side of the park, along Red Bluff Drive.
Ignition will take place from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
During this period, the area will be closed to everyone except residents of the immediate area.
Areas closed will include the Richter and CCC overlooks, as well as Rock House Cave.
Prescribed fire management plans are in place to ensure the safety of park visitors and nearby residents. Local volunteer fire departments will participate to offer extra protection for homes closest to the prescribed burn site.
Smoke may be visible from Oppelo, Casa, Morrilton, Conway, and other surrounding communities. Motorists in the park are asked to drive with caution due to the possibility of reduced visibility.
“As stewards of Arkansas’s 52 state parks, we are committed to safely and efficiently reducing hazardous forest fuels to minimize the risk of destructive wildfires. This prescribed burn at Petit Jean State Park will be managed by staff from Arkansas State Parks, the AFC, and local volunteer fire departments - who will assure its success for the immediate and long-term benefits it will produce,” said Arkansas State Parks Director Grady Spann.
The goal of this burn is to improve the wildfire safety of this area by reducing flammable, dry vegetation which currently covers the bluff, and to improve wildlife habitat in the area.
Petit Jean State Park has been threatened by two large wildfires in the last fifteen years, first in 2000 and again in 2012. In both situations, the prescribed burn site on Red Bluff Drive was exposed to flames beneath the bluff. Because wildfires sometimes race uphill, the burn site is considered a high-risk area and will benefit greatly from the application of prescribed fire. Learn more about prescribed fire benefits, here.
“Prescribed fire is one of the best tools to reduce the risk of out-of-control wildfires. For the safety of Arkansans, the health of our forests, and the protection of historic, beautiful places like Petit Jean State Park – we confidently use prescribed fire as a ‘good fire,’ to stop the bad ones. We are honored to work with fire professionals at Arkansas State Parks to complete proactive efforts that keep residents and forests safe,” said State Forester Joe Fox.
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