The USDA Forest Service will be conducting controlled burns this week within the Cherokee National Forest.

The burns will take place between March 18-24. 

Residents may see smoke. 

The USDA said there are several reasons controlled burns are done in the Cherokee National Forest:

1. Hazardous Fuel Reduction:

"Fuels (vegetation) such as grass, leaves, brush, downed trees, and pine needles accumulate and create a fire hazard. By burning an area under favorable conditions these fuels are removed, decreasing the amount of vegetation that is available to burn during a wildfire. Reducing heavy vegetation build-up helps protect communities from the threat of wildfire, as well as being beneficial to the forest."

2. Site Preparation:

"Certain trees cannot tolerate shady conditions created by other species. In areas being managed for pines, prescribed fire reduces certain types of vegetation that compete for light, moisture, and nutrients. Prescribed fire also reduces the leaf litter on the forest floor which often prevents seed germination for natural reproduction of desirable vegetation, including native grasses."

3. Wildlife Habitat:

"Prescribed fire promotes new sprout and herbaceous growth that serves as beneficial food and cover for many animals."