Virginia Conservation Success Stories

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Tied To The River

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The Davis family signed a conservation easement in September 2017 with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) assisted, helping ensure that 2.3 miles of verdant riverfront land will not be developed. The agreement is proof, too, that conservation and private enterprise can coexist — and even thrive.

 

Creating a Fire Resilient Landscape in the Pisgah National Forest

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On July 14, 2015, a lightning strike ignited a wildfire on Bald Knob in the Grandfather Ranger District (GRD) of the Pisgah National Forest. Only 30 miles outside of Asheville, North Carolina and on rugged terrain difficult to access, the wildfire may have posed greater threat had it not been adjacent to areas containing recent fuel treatments (prescribed fire) and wildfires. These treatments, as part of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP), reduced fire fuel loads in the forest and enabled the Bald Knob fire to safely burn while protecting firefighters, local residents, structures, power line corridors, communication towers, and Forest Service property and surrounding land. Fuel treatments positively influenced the fire’s spread and allowed firefighting efforts to truly focus on protection of private properties. The inaccessible terrain as well as the confine and contain strategy allowed ample time to keep the effected community well informed of current fire behavior, smoke impacts and management plans for the fire.

 

Prescribed Fire Program Reduces Wildfire Severity

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Over four long days in late March 2011, the most severe wildfire outbreak in a decade occurred at Eglin Air Force Base, located near Destin, Florida (Fig. 1). A persistent drought, 20 mph winds and low humidity, combined with 12-15 arson fires on the property, resulted in 6,000 acres burned in a matter of days. Due to Eglin’s aggressive prescribed fire program, the March 2011 wildfire severity and acres burned were significantly reduced. Without this regular fuel reduction, anywhere from 10-12,000 acres could have burned just on the Eglin side, with untold acres burned and property damaged north of Interstate 10.

 

Drone Use Assists in Wildfire Prevention at Great Dismal Swamp, Virginia

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The 112,000 acre Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge near Suffolk, Virginia has a long history of large and dangerous wildfires. One and a half million people live adjacent to the swamp, making the Refuge boundary a significant Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). For this reason, wildfire management and smoke concerns are a major issue at the Refuge. To assist in early fire detection and prevention, NASA developed an interagency agreement with the Refuge and an additional agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to build and operate several inexpensive drones, or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), for use at the Refuge.

 

Florida Partnership Enables Landscape-Level Prescribed Burn

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On March 2, 2018, a large prescribed burn occurred at the Yellow River Water Management Area in Santa Rosa County, Florida, which is managed by the Northwest Florida Water Management District. Weather and atmospheric conditions were ideal and resources were available for the Florida Forest Service to approve the burn permit. Aerial ignition via helicopter started the fire systematically across the landscape. Ground firing and monitoring crews, consisting of 15 personnel were stationed at the tract perimeter as ground support during the burn.