The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission says it supports a controversial plan for controlled burns in the Linville Gorge wilderness.
Property owners near the gorge in Burke and McDowell counties are fighting the U.S. Forest Service plan to burn 16,000 acres in the area. They fear the prescribed fires could rage out of control, as some have recently, or discourage hikers from visiting blackened areas.
The wildlife commission says the low-intensity fires would reduce the risks of catastrophic wildfires that have ravaged the gorge, and restore native plants that benefit from fire. Fifteen other conservation and sporting groups also support the Forest Service plan, which could still be revised.