SULPHUR — Fire managers have resumed a series of prescribed burns at the Chickasaw National Recreational Area.
A week ago weather conditions forced officials to call a halt to the burns, but late last week Dan Winings, CNRA Public Information Officer, said unless weather conditions deteriorate the burns are now planned to continue until Feb. 26.
Burns will occur at The Point, Five Lakes, Hunting and South Boundary areas of the park. The prescribed fires will burn slash from thinned eastern red cedar cut during the summer and fall of 2010.
Saturday fire managers planned to burn in the Five Lakes area, narrowing the gap in the estimated total 3,000 acres that are a part of the project. "Hot spots within the interior of completed burn units may continue to burn until they receive significant precipitation. Firefighters continue to patrol these areas and take action as needed," Winings said.
Temporary trail closures in the vicinity of the burn units may be implemented on the days of ignition for visitor safety. Each evening fire managers review forecasts for predicted wind direction and upper level mixing of smoke when determining which unit(s) to burn the following day.
Winings warned smoke may be visible in downtown Sulphur, Davis, Dougherty, Rock Creek, Veterans Lake, Buckhorn areas, Goddard Road, and along Chickasaw Trail.
"But every effort will be made to minimize smoke impacts.Wind direction and upper level mixing of smoke will be utilized in an attempt to eliminate or reduce these inconveniences," Winings said. "Local residents and visitors in the area who are sensitive to smoke or have pre-existing respiratory problems should limit their outdoor activities and keep windows closed during the burn. If you have health problems that will be aggravated by smoke, we encourage you to call the park for further assistance at ( 580) 622-7282.
According to the National Park Service eastern red cedar, which is native to Oklahoma, is extremely invasive. The tree species creates a wildfire hazard, displaces other species from the natural ecosystem, impairs local air quality by producing allergens, and contributes to the general decline of the local water table. Under natural conditions eastern red cedar is limited by periodic natural fires.