The U.S. Department of Energy is starting a series of controlled burns of grassland areas on the Oak Ridge Reservation this week.
The controlled burns could continue through mid-April, depending upon weather. The burns will be on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Three Bend Area off Pump House and Bull Bluff Roads, and other managed grassland areas off Bethel Valley Road and off Highway 58, a press release said.
The controlled burns will take place at:
- Freels Bend fields – up to approximately 284 acres of grassland and scrub
- Gallaher Bend fields – up to approximately 125 acres of grassland and kudzu
- Solway Bend fields – up to approximately 62 acres of grassland
- Hickory Creek Bend woodland – up to approximately 21 acres of forest, grassland, and kudzu
- Bethel fields – up to approximately 48 acres of grassland
- Delphinium management in Bethel Valley – approximately three acres of grassland
- Clear Springs fields – up to approximately 251 acres of grassland
- Wheat Church Vista – approximately 33 acres of grassland
- Dyllis kudzu control – approximately 48 acres of forest edge, grassland, and kudzu
- Watson Road Fields – approximately 63 acres of forest edge, grassland, and kudzu
- West Borrow kudzu control – approximately six acres of forest edge and kudzu
- National Nuclear Security Administration OST Training Facility – approximately six acres of grassland
- Fuel reduction in Whippoorwill and Hunley Management Units – up to 240 acres of forest
These planned burns are part of the TWRA and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s effort to provide wildlife habitat, encourage growth of native plants, and reduce the risk of wildfires, the press release said. They are conducted and overseen by the State of Tennessee Division of Forestry personnel, who maintain fire control equipment, certified burn managers, and trained personnel at the burn area, the press release said. During burns, distant smoke may be observed in the Oak Ridge vicinity of Clark Center Park or south of the Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education campus and nearby segments of State Routes 95, 58, and 327.
Also, DOE in collaboration with the TDF, TWRA, and the City of Oak Ridge Fire Department will resume proactive installation of firebreaks in forested areas that are downslope of the interfaces between urban areas and the Reservation, the release said.
“These measures are undertaken to reduce the risk of wildfire spread,” the press release said.