||The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages 11 national wildlife refuges covering 500,000 acres in northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia. The refuges have 80,000 acres of fire-dependent vegetative communities with natural fire frequencies of one to three years. Brackish marshes cover 50,000 acres; pine savannas, 14,000 acres; managed wetlands, 8,000 acres; and managed inland grasslands, 8,000 acres. Maintenance of wildlife populations in
those communities depends on mimicking natural fire frequencies. Research by Cecil Frost of the North Carolina Plant Conservation Program has documented the fire frequency. The Service manages those communities by conducting prescribed fires on a three-year rotation. The Service has assembled a fire management crew located strategically at the different refuges and has trained and equipped them to maintain their efficiency. The fire crew conducts the prescribed burning within stringent guidelines established by the state to protect air quality. These guidelines limit the acreage of each fire depending on the type of fuel, wind atmospheric
conditions, and distance from populated areas. The prescribed burning also protects local communities from damage by wildfires and highways from a loss of visibility from smoke.