ROLAND, Ark. (Ark. State Parks) - If weather conditions are conducive, a controlled burn will be conducted on approximately 640 acres in Pinnacle Mountain State Park the week of December 17-21, targeting Wednesday December 19 as the actual burn day.
Two days before the burn are used to prepare the land and the two day's post burn will be used to ensure all fires are extinguished and the mountain in safe for visitation.
The burn will begin in mid-morning on December 19th and continue until approximately 5 p.m., or as conditions allow. Areas to be affected include the lands between Pinnacle Valley Road, Highway 300, the Rail line and the Little Maumelle River.
This plot includes Pinnacle Mountain and all land at the base of the mountain. The West Summit picnic area, the West Summit Trail, the East Summit Trail, the Base Trail which includes the portion of the Ouachita Trail that overlaps the Base Trail and the Kingfisher Trail will all be associated with the burn.
No visitors will be allowed in these areas during the burn. Personnel from Arkansas State Parks, The Forestry Commission, Central Arkansas Master Naturalists and The Nature Conservancy will oversee the fire to ensure it stays within the designated burn area. If weather conditions warrant postponing the burn, it will be rescheduled. The current backup date will fall during the week of December 17-21, 2012.
Motorists in the park and along Pinnacle Valley Road and Highway 300 are cautioned to drive with care due to the possibility of reduced visibility caused by smoke. Park personnel will be stationed along Pinnacle Valley Road and Highway 300 to assist motorists if necessary.
Because of the burn, the park's West Summit picnic area, the West Summit Trail, the East Summit Trail and the Base Trail which includes the portion of the Ouachita Trail that overlaps the Base Trail and the Kingfisher Trail will be closed the week of December 17-21, 2012. Plans call for only these areas to be closed; however, if smoke becomes an issue elsewhere in the park, other areas may also be closed to the public the day of the burn.
The park's Arkansas Arboretum, Environmental Education Pond, the portion of the Ouachita Trail from the Visitor Center to the East Summit trailhead, the Visitor Center and the Rocky Valley Trail will all remain open.
Fuel hazard reduction is the primary benefit of a controlled burn. Winter months are optimal for the removal of forest debris and dead wood on the forest floor that would provide dangerous fuel should a wildfire break out in hot, dry summer months, especially under drought conditions. Fuels such as grasses, weeds, pine needles, hardwood leaves, and deadfall (tree trunks and limbs) accumulate rapidly in the forest. They increase the threat of destruction of the forest due to wildfires and are a hindrance to the regeneration of a mature forest. This fuel reduction will also protect the park's buildings by removing fuel in the proximity of park structures. A controlled burn is a swift, effective, and inexpensive means of reducing fire hazard.
Other benefits of prescribed burns are wildlife habitat improvement (promotion of flower, seed, and fruit production), disease control, reduction of the forest understory, and improved appearance.
Pinnacle Mountain State Park is located in Pulaski County west of Little Rock. The park is one of the 52 state parks administered by the State Parks Division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.
For more information, contact: Joan Ellison, public information officer, Arkansas State Parks, 1 Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201; phone: 501-454-1799, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Source: Pinnacle Mountain State Park)