USA — Virginias 4 p.m. burning law will go into effect Feb. 15, the start of spring fire season in Virginia. The law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. each day through April 30 if the fire is in or within 300 feet of woodland, brushland or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.
A recent press release from the Virginia Department of Forestry states that a violation of this law is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. In addition to the criminal violation, those who allow a fire to escape are liable for the cost of suppressing the fire as well as any damage caused to others property.
In 2008, there were 1,322 wildfires that burned 25,704 acres of forest land in the state. This was a 12.4 percent decrease in the number of wildland fires compared to 2007. However, the numbers reflect a 130 percent increase in the amount of acreage that burned when compared to 11,200 acres that burned in 2007.
Weather permitting, the National Park Service will initiate several prescribed burns in Shenandoah National Park this year. Because of the uncertainty of the weather, it is not possible to predict the exact dates.
Prescribed fires are purposefully ignited by managers under a pre-determined set of conditions in order to accomplish specific resource management objectives. The prescription includes weather, fuel moisture and resource availability parameters.
These burns are planned:
Big Meadows: Portions of Big Meadows, the open area across from Byrd Visitor Center, are burned each year. In March or April, about 35 acres will be burned in the eastern portion of the field for the purpose of maintaining the open vista by preventing encroachment by woody species.
Vista maintenance: As part of an ongoing project, the park will use fire to maintain open vistas by preventing encroachment by woody species at many scenic locations along Skyline Drive. Park staff plan to burn three to four vistas this year.
All prescribed burns will be interagency projects, with local support, under the guidance and direction of trained and experienced National Park Service personnel.