News Releases at John H. Kerr

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 John H. Kerr Prescribed Burn Season Winter 2023 - Spring 2024

What is a prescribed burn? A prescribed burn is a planned fire, conducted by trained professionals, used to achieve specific natural resource objectives. Many types of plants and wildlife need fire to survive.  Periodic fire stimulates growth, helps reproduction of plants, provides wildlife habitat, and ensures healthier natural areas around the lake. The US Army Corps of Engineers conducts prescribed burns each year between the months of December and April. The burns are carried out on large portions of natural areas around the lake including: Wildlife Management Areas, timber tracts, and recreational sites.  Safety is the number one concern during all prescribed burns. Well before a match is struck, the fire team considers the safety of people, property, and the natural areas they are managing. Safety considerations and preparations include:

  • Burn Plan: a detailed plan is created for each specific burn that includes the burn objectives, plans for fire and smoke control, acceptable weather conditions, equipment and personnel needs, and contingencies for changing conditions.
  • Firebreak Construction: wide corridors of cleared land that are free of burnable material are created around each burn area, ensuring that the fire does not leave the designated burn site.
  • Smoke Management: prescribed burns are conducted only when conditions will minimize the amount of smoke produced and its effect on people.
  • Certified Fire Team: all of the prescribed burns by the US Army Corps of Engineers at the John H Kerr Reservoir are conducted by trained professionals, certified by both North Carolina and Virginia Forest Service agencies.   

The natural resource managers with the US Army Corps of Engineers conduct prescribed burns for a number of reasons. Prescribed burns help to reduce the hazardous buildup of vegetation, known as fuel, which if left unchecked could lead to a devastating wildfire that would threaten the local communities. Furthermore, many plant and animal species need fire to thrive. Prescribed burns help reduce competition, release seeds, add precious nutrients into the soil, and promotes beneficial plant species that attract wildlife. Prescribed burns also play a large role in forest management where they are used for understory control, disease containment, and site preparation.  The following sites are scheduled to be burned during the 2023-2024 prescribed burn season.

Beaverpond Creek Hogan Creek WMA North Bend Park Cedar Grove WMA
Bluestone WMA Lower Butchers WMA Oakleaf WMA Eagle Point WMA
Buffalo WMA Merifield WMA Tates Branch Forest Management Area  
Greenwood WMA Middle Butchers Forest Management Area Wall Branch WMA  


As members of the public who enjoy the John H Kerr Reservoir, the US Army Corps of Engineers hope you recognize the importance of prescribed burning as a necessary tool used to protect you and your community and improve ecosystem health in the natural areas around the lake. Thank you for your understanding during the prescribed burn season. For additional information please contact the Visitor Assistance Center at 434-738-6143.

Notices at John H. Kerr

Winter camping is not available at North Bend Park from November 1, 2023 through March 31, 2024. Questions please call the Visitor Assistance Center (VAC) at 434.738.6143.

When boating beyond buoy 23,  use caution and proceed at slow speeds due to the shallow waters and changing nature of the river channels!