Smoke fills sky during prescribed burn at Croatan National Forest

CAPE CARTERET, CARTERET COUNTY - The U.S. Forest Service is conducting a prescribed burn in the Croatan National Forest.

Forest officials said they will be burning about 1,066 acres Monday. The scene is off of Highway 24 and Pringle Road, about 3 miles south of Cape Carteret. (The above photo was taken by Jason Nelson.)

No roads or trails will be closed during the prescribed burn, officials said. About 350 acres were already burned over the weekend.

The Forest Service plans to conduct more prescribed burns in the coming weeks. According to officials, about 3,500 more acres will be burned to improve the habitat for fire-adapted animals such as the red-cockaded woodpecker. The Forest Service hopes the burns will also help restore the longleaf pine ecosystem.

In addition, officials said the prescribed burns will reduce the amount of fuel on the forest floor, preventing future wildfires.

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