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Most of the Lower Buffalo Wilderness Area Will be Closed in March for Prescribed Burning:

From March 1st – 31st, Buffalo National River will conduct a controlled burn inside the Lower Buffalo Wilderness area. The 11,284 acre Lower Buffalo Wilderness Prescribed Fire unit is located in southeast Marion County approximately 7 miles southeast of Flippin. The entire unit is expected to require less than 30 days to actually ignite, but to ensure safety; the area will be closed to the public for the entire period.

One of the purposes for conducting a prescribed burn is to reduce the hazardous fuels that could possibly lead to catastrophic wildfires, but there are a myriad of other benefits. For example, prescribed burns promote the restoration of post oak savannas and cedar glades areas, as well as lowers the risk potential of various forest diseases. Also, prescribed burns improve wildlife habitat and diversity.

Closing will occur on the north side of the Buffalo River inside the Lower Buffalo Wilderness. The boundary of the closed area follows a line from the White River along the Buffalo River upstream to the west and north to Cedar Creek access; then east along the park boundary to the White River; and then south downstream along the White River to the Buffalo River. Cedar Creek access will be closed only during periods of actual burn operations. The river corridor will not close at any time. Canoes and john boats will continue to have river access while camping will be allowed on gravel bars.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, United State Forest Service, Arkansas Forestry Commission, and Rea Valley Volunteer Fire Department will assist with the burn.

 

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(CNSNews.com) – Almost 62 percent (61.8%) of the continental United States experienced drought in July 2012, making it the largest drought-affected area since the end of the “Dust Bowl” era in December 1939, when 62.1 percent of the U.S. was drought-stricken, the USDA said.

According to the Palmer Drought Index – which covers 113 years and is used for historical comparison purposes — the worst drought ever recorded was in July 1934, when 79.9 percent of the continental U.S. was affected.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, since 1999, has used a new Drought Monitor to determine the extent of agricultural drought.

As of Jan. 1, the Drought Monitor showed that 61.09 percent of the continental U.S. was experiencing drought – down from the September 2012 peak of 65.45 percent.

Despite the slight decline in overall U.S. drought coverage, the central portion of the nation experiencing the worst drought category – D4, or exceptional drought – has been slowly rising. Exceptional drought covered 6.75 percent of the nation on January 1, the greatest coverage since November 2011. (See map)

In the past week, there has been “above-normal precipitation” in the southeastern U.S., but drought conditions expanded in southwestern and central areas that didn’t get any rain.

“The cumulative impact of precipitation during this week and previous weeks resulted in contraction of drought areas in the West, South, and East,” according to the National Drought Summary for Jan 1, 2013. “But drought expanded in those areas which missed out on the beneficial precipitation.”

The Associated Press reported on Jan. 2 that climatologists predict it will take as much as 8 feet or more of snow during the winter months to restore farmland soil to pre-drought conditions.

On Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack designated 597 counties in 14 states as primary natural disaster areas because of drought and heat, making all qualified farm operators in the areas eligible for low-interest emergency loans. These are the first disaster designations made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2013.

In 2012, USDA designated 2,245 counties in 39 states as disaster areas due to drought, or 71 percent of the United States.

At the height of the 2012 drought, USDA announced a series of actions to help to farmers, ranchers and businesses impacted by the 2012 drought, including lowering the interest rate for emergency loans, working with crop insurance companies to provide flexibility to farmers, and expanding the use of set-aside conservation acreage for haying and grazing.

Those same actions continue to bring relief to producers ahead of the 2013 planting season, USDA said on Wednesday.

 

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