Home News Prescribed Fire Planned in Wayne National for Forest Health

Prescribed Fire Planned in Wayne National for Forest Health


Athens – In 2020 and 2022 wildfires raged uncontrollably through the Wayne National Forest in Athens, this year US Forest Service will burn hundreds of acres of land to help prevent a fire from spreading again across one of Ohio’s largest natural parks.

In an effort to promote forest health and resilience, authorities have announced plans to conduct a prescribed fire encompassing approximately 670 acres in Athens County. The prescribed fire is scheduled to take place on Monday, March 25, and will be situated east of Buchtel, spanning between Big Bailey Run Road, Utah Ridge Road, Pancake Road, and Ohio State Route 685.

This initiative involves collaboration between the Wayne National Forest and private landowners in the vicinity. Through the prescribed fire program, willing private landowners have the opportunity to participate at no cost, allowing them to reap the environmental benefits of prescribed fires on their property without incurring expenses or logistical challenges.

Weather permitting, firing operations are slated to commence between 11 AM and 2 PM on Monday and will extend throughout the afternoon. To aid in igniting the prescribed fire unit, an unmanned aircraft system, commonly known as a “drone,” will be utilized.

Authorities strongly advise individuals to avoid the prescribed fire area on Monday due to potential hazards. Fire crews will be active along Big Bailey Run Road, Utah Ridge Road, Pancake Road, and Ohio State Route 685, with periods of significant smoke likely causing limited visibility. Motorists are urged to exercise caution, slow down, and remain vigilant for firefighters and vehicles on the road.

In the interest of public and firefighter safety, the prescribed fire unit will be temporarily closed to public entry for up to two or three weeks following the operation. Additionally, certain trails within the Baileys Trail System, including The Underground and Thrillium west of Utah Ridge Road, will be temporarily closed beginning Monday.

Following the prescribed fire, forest staff will conduct patrols to identify and address any potential hazards such as hazardous snags. Once the area is deemed safe for entry, the prescribed fire unit and impacted trails will be reopened to the public.

Prescribed fires play a crucial role in maintaining the health and resilience of oak-dominated forests and woodlands in southeast Ohio. To learn more about fire management in the national forest, including prescribed fire procedures, visit the official website of the Wayne National Forest.