The fall fire season coupled with a deepening drought has caused Great Smoky Mountains National Pa officials to impose a ban on campfires in the Park's backcountry, effective immediately. Due to extremely dry conditions and the amount of fresh leaf litter on the ground, the potential for escaped fires has heightened. The fire restriction will be in effect until further notice.
The fire ban only applies to campers utilizing the Park's 100+ backcountry sites and shelters. It does not affect campers at the Park's 10 frontcountry (developed) campgrounds or picnickers using fire grills at picnic areas. Fires at developed areas must be confined to designated fire rings and grills.
In addition, all visitors are asked to take certain precautions to help reduce the risk of wildfires. After use, all cigarettes, cigars or pipes should be extinguished in areas cleared of vegetation or in ash trays and not thrown out of a car window. Visitors should extinguish frontcountry fires by mixing water with embers in fire rings and grills.
Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson said that "The burn restriction is being placed to reduce the potential for human-caused uncontrolled wild land fires to occur within the Park's backcountry during this period of extreme fire danger and drought conditions. This is the second fire ban that has been imposed this year, which is quite unusual. Also extremely unusual is the number of free-running springs that are dry in the backcountry and along the Appalachian Trail."
Backpackers should be aware that this situation affects about a 23-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail where there is no water between Fontana Dam and Derrick Knob Shelter. Other spring locations are very spotty and in some areas where there is a running spring, it can take up to 5 minutes to fill a quart-sized bottle. Specific sites known to be without water are backcountry sites 4, 5, 6, 7, 16, 21, 26, 35, 42, 113, and the following shelters: Mollies Ridge, Russell Field, Spence Field, Silers Bald and Double Spring Gap. Other campsites may be without water as the drought continues.... read the rest of the story by Subscribing now.