See smoke? Orton to conduct controlled burn today

Orton is conducting a series of controlled burns to maintain the longleaf pine habitat.
Orton is conducting a series of controlled burns to maintain the longleaf pine habitat.(Orton)
Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 12:52 PM EST|Updated: Apr. 20, 2023 at 8:29 AM EDT
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WINNABOW, N.C. (WECT) - Orton plans to conduct controlled burning on 222 acres on Thursday, April 20. It is set to be completed by 5 p.m. on the same day.

Orton’s annual prescribed burning season runs between March 1 and May 1 on over 6,000 acres to help the forest’s health and restore the longleaf pine habitat.

“Scores of native plant and animal species depend on fire for habitat maintenance, and the removal of fire from the landscape and human exclusion of fire has threatened their existence. The good news is these continued efforts and partnerships to put fire on the ground creates a safer environment for humans while protecting wildlife and natural resources,” said Orton Wildlife Biologist and Research Scientist Dr. Theron Terhune.

Between the two months, prescribed fire will only be applied for about 14 days. Weather and other criteria can affect whether or not a burn takes place on a given day.

People living in Carolina Beach, Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington along with travelers on Hwy 133 may smell or see smoke.

“Trained experts conduct the controlled burns at Orton, and are in close coordination with the North Carolina Forest Service, the North Carolina Department of Air Quality, the Brunswick and New Hanover County fire departments and 911 services. The burn is overseen by Orton Property Manager, Dillon Epp, a state-certified controlled burner, in accordance with an approved plan to ensure the safety of people and property in the area. Controlled burns are dependent upon optimal weather conditions with the ultimate goal of smoke mitigation,” said Orton in a release.