A small wildfire discovered in the Cohutta Wilderness on October 16 has grown to 10 acres and is highly visible across Fannin, Gilmer and surrounding counties. The fire is not threatening any private lands or structures.
The Rough Ridge wildfire is located approximately 1.5 miles north of Three Forks trailhead on the east side of the Rough Ridge trail, and is at 3500 feet elevation on extremely steep slopes. The nearest private land is located 1.5 miles to the northeast. This wildfire is most active on the northwestern and southern flanks. Flame lengths are less than one foot and the rate of spread has been slow. Lightning is believed to have started the fire.
Because this wildfire is located within a congressionally designated Wilderness Area, it is managed differently than some other wildfires. Actions are limited to those that safely and effectively suppress the fire when needed to protect life and property and to meet other objectives.
“Natural processes, such as lightning caused fires, have helped shape the forest type you see today in the Cohutta Wilderness,” says Conasauga District Ranger Jeff Gardner.
Fire personnel are currently monitoring the Rough Ridge wildfire and using Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics to allow ecological and biological processes to progress naturally while reducing the long-term effects of the suppression actions. Fire management strategies are based on many factors, including risks to public and firefighter safety; condition of fuels; predicted weather; values to protect; and available firefighting assets. These strategies may change as conditions change.
This week, firefighters have suppressed five other small fires on the Conasauga Ranger District, all located outside Wilderness Areas. As warm, dry weather persists, fire danger remains High for this area. High winds today and tomorrow are contributing to the fire danger.
Current closures associated with the Rough Ridge wildfire include the entire length of Rough Ridge trail from East Cowpen trail to the Jacks River trail.
A campfire restriction issued on October 12, 2016, includes all of the Chattahoochee National Forest, including the Cohutta Wilderness. The restriction prohibits building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire outside of developed recreation areas. That means that only campfires built within metal fire rings in developed campsites are allowed. There are no developed campsites within Cohutta Wilderness.
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The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests provide the finest outdoor recreation opportunities and natural resources in Georgia. Featuring nearly 867,000 acres across 26 counties, thousands of miles of clear-running streams and rivers, approximately 850 miles of recreation trails, and dozens of campgrounds, picnic areas, and other recreation activity opportunities, these lands are rich in natural scenery, history and culture. The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.