44% of the Appalachian Trail is Under a Fire Ban

Published Nov 25, 2016

Forgive me, please, for sounding so heartless, but there are times when it's easier for a writer to post an obituary about a stranger than to write about the inanimate (yet beloved) Appalachian Trail being threatened by fire.

Please, observe the fire ban that extends from Georgia to Virginia. Low humidity, almost no rain and windy conditions have created unprecedented dangers for wildfires throughout the Southeast, especially near the AT.

Fire Ban in North Carolina

Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire (including charcoal based fire whether in a grill or not) is NOT ALLOWED anywhere on the National Forest.

The use of commercially available portable lanterns, stoves, or heating equipment that utilize gas or pressurized liquid fuel is allowed. The stove must have an ON/OFF switch. No alcohol stoves. No hexamine or solid fuel cubes.

Forests burn. In doing so, they renew. It's part of the life in God's creation. Big trees turn to ashes. That allows more light to reach the ground. Growth begins again. Saplings become trees and all is well. Until the next fire or storm.

Nevertheless, to hear of scores of fires incinerating trees all along the AT, and hundreds of miles of the trail being placed under a fire ban is heartbreaking.

What's more sad are reports of individuals and groups ignoring the risk and the law by having campfires or even cooking fires that put the Trail and lives in danger.

Please allow me to think the best of our friends who smoke. I want to believe that, in spite of their penchant for a self-destructive habit, they are concerned with the health of the outdoors and that they douse their butts in water, not into tinder.

Laurie Potteiger serves the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. It seems to me that she does so only to serve the AT and those who love it almost as much as Laurie loves it. I have the highest respect for her and for the information she distributes.

As of Tuesday, November 22, 2016, Laurie sent this response to my question about how much of the Appalachian Trail is under a fire ban:

Actually, now it is 965.5 - A continuous fire ban from Springer Mountain all the way to the northern border of Shenandoah National Park, as I understand it.

Wildfires are still not under control in North Carolina. The Clear Creek 1,100 hundred acre fire west of Marion, NC, is out of control too.

Officials in North Carolina say, "Due to the sheer number of uncontained and uncontrolled fires in the southern region, local, state and federal agencies have banded together in an unprecedented effort to contain and control these fires and to help communities prevent new fires from sprouting."

Only crazoids want to start forest fires. You're probably a nice person who just wants to warm some beans and dry out your socks by a fire on an overnight hike. Please don't.

As unpleasant as it is to write about wildfires, it would be worse to write your obituary or news of your arrest for causing a calamity.

Tags: Attractions, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, News, Closures, Robert Sutherland Travel Writer, Conservation, Safety, Accident, Information, appalachian trail hikers, fire ban appalachian trail, and burn ban along appalachian trail

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
Related Articles

Published Nov 10, 2016. On Thursday, November 10, 2016, forest service officials with the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests implemented a total fire ban.

Published Apr 28, 2016. The status of forest fires threatening the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina and Virginia can be checked at the government website InciWeb.

Published May 4, 2016. The Forest Service says the Silver Mine Fire near Hot Springs, NC, is 100% contained. The Appalachian Trail has reopened to hikers.

Published Aug 13, 2015. Fires in North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest at Bald Knob & Wolf Creek continue to burn. Smoke can be seen by hikers on the Appalachian Trail.

Laurie Potteiger on Nov 23, 2016
Thank you for helping get the word out, Robert!
Christopher Hendley on Nov 24, 2016
See Robert...you and "Smokey the Bear" have something in common. You guys sre helping stop forest fires. Keep up the great work.