Paddy's Creek Area Feels the Burn
Smoke rising from the Paddy’s Creek Area on Valentine’s Day signified another successful prescribed burn at Lake James State Park. With favorable weather conditions and plenty of parks personnel on hand to assist, the decision was made to touch off a 109-acre unit that encompasses the southern end of the Mill’s Creek Trail, the septic drain field and the vegetated islands separating the parking lot tiers.
Controlled burning is a valuable tool for natural resource managers to remove dead, dry leaves, pine needles, branches and logs from the forest floor; materials that could fuel a catastrophic wildfire during periods of extreme drought. It is also an effective means to control early successional trees and shrubs that have choked out the species that have historically dominated this region.
“There are remnant examples of Table Mountain and shortleaf pine trees within the burn unit that have not reproduced in decades,” said Park Ranger Jamie Cameron. “Our goal is to make the park less susceptible to uncontrollable wildfires and restore this ecosystem back to its pre-settlement make-up of an open, multi-layered and diverse forest that is anchored by oak, hickory and Table Mountain pine trees.”
Started during 2013, the Lake James State Park prescribed fire program has burned more than 900 acres within the park boundary.