A large controlled burn will take place at Catawba Bend Preserve this afternoon.
The park on Neely Store Road is 1,900 acres. Much of the land is pine forest, and while it was owned at one time by a paper company, it has not been managed. York County leaders are moving forward with developing Catawba Bend Preserve, and a first step is to protect it from wildfires.
Forestry experts consulting with the County have recommended a series of controlled burns to reduce the wildfire risk and promote wildlife habitat. The plan is to burn about 300 acres of forest land inside the park over a three-year period. The first burn includes roughly 75 acres along the gravel road entrance to the park off Neely Store Road.
A controlled burn removes the fuel that wildfires thrive on. CBP is covered with thick pine straw, fallen limbs, dead brush and debris that easily ignites. A managed fire burns that away, opening up the area to more sunlight, and promoting new growth that wildlife can feed on. It also gives the existing trees a much better chance of surviving a potential wildfire.
Last month, forestry management teams used bulldozers to cut a wide firebreak around the burn area. They have notified officials, the 911 center and neighbors before beginning the burn, which will take one day, ending at sunset. Roy Boyd with Associated Land Management said smoke drift should not be an issue, but it will be closely monitored.
“We’ll patrol the lines. Once the burning is over with you’re going to have some stuff smoking out here. Stump holes, old stumps, downed trees and things like that. Anything close to the firebreak that has the potential to cross over the firebreak, we’ll take care of that,” Boyd said.
Experts used National Weather Service forecasts to pinpoint the day, time and conditions in which to burn. York County received notice last night that today met all the conditions necessary, and that was confirmed this morning.
York County has hired Associated Land Management to oversee the project. Grant money will be used leaving little to no cost to taxpayers.
(20+) York County SC | Facebook to see our in-depth video on the burn.