Controlled burn planned for Knotts Island in Currituck today

Prescribed burn on Mackay Island Wildlife Refuge. [USFW photo]

Don’t be alarmed if you see smoke over the sound in Currituck County today. U.S. Fish and Wildlife is planning a controlled burn at the Mackay Island Wildlife Refuge on Knotts Island in Currituck County.

About 6,000 acres of marsh habitat are managed with prescribed fire (2,000 acres each year on a 3-year rotation) to provide feeding habitat for wintering snow geese, to stimulate growth of beneficial plant species, to control pest plants, and to prevent wildfire danger to adjoining private lands, the agency says.

Once a prescribed burn has occurred, the fuels from the land will have burned and will not burn again, or will not burn as intensively compared to land that was not burned. Fires release nutrients back into the soil, remove undesirable vegetation, and stimulate growth of early successional plants eaten by a variety of wildlife.

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Kari Pugh is digital director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, 94.5 WCMS and News Talk 92.3 WZPR. Reach her at kpugh@jammediallc.com