Motorists traveling Bald Hills Road may experience smoke and traffic control measures starting Tuesday as Redwood National and State Parks begins a series of prescribed burns.

The prescribed burns will take place in the prairies and oak woodlands of the Bald Hills east of Orick, according to a Redwood National and State Parks press release.

The prescribed burns are in keeping with how the Yurok, Tolowa, Chilula and Hupa people managed their prairies, oak woodlands and coastal areas, according to the press release. Intentional burning provided grazing and hunting areas for elk and deer, maintained resources like tanoak trees and various basket weaving materials, kept trail and travel corridors open and lessened the prevalence of parasites like ticks, according to the press release.

Early settlers also continued the practice of broadcast burning until the state outlawed it in the 1920s, according to the release. Since then Douglas fir and other conifers have encroached on many of the prairies and oak woodlands, according to the release.

This year prescribed burns will be conducted in seven units of the Bald Hills, including the Upper and Lower Airstrip, Lower Airstrip Expansion, Wooden Gate, Upper and Lower Counts and Lower Dolason. All units comprise a total of about 96 acres, according to the press release.

Redwood National and State Parks uses fire to restore natural and cultural processes, manage exotic plants and conifers and to interpret and educate the public about the role fire plays in the parks, according to the press release. The national park ahs used fire since the early 1980s.

For more information about the prescribed fire program, call Rick Young at 707-465-7732. For more information about Redwood National and State Parks, visit www.nps.gov/redw.

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