Proposed Forest Service Controlled Burn in Panthertown facing a challenge

One of the components of the US Forest Service’s forest management plan is having controlled burns for certain forest lands as a means of controlling the accumulation of ground cover materials that could lead to more serious fires during certain dry seasons.  This method is often used on US Forest Service lands in the western United States. Several locations in locations in Swain County and Macon County are subject to these controlled burns on an annual basic. Some eastern North Carolina pine forests have annual controlled burns.  However this year’s planned burn in Panthertown Valley is facing protests from citizens and biologists led by retired WCU Profession Dr Dan Patillo.  Patillo is best known as the  individual who was the official predicter of the mountain fall color display. The objections hinge around the protection of the ground cover and many species of plants unique to the area. Also the damp conditions frequent to the area actually promote decay and forest health according to Patillo who is encouraging the US Forest Service to reconsider the burn because of the unique biological nature of the area.