GATLINBURG, TN (AP) _ The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is planning a 155-acre prescribed burn in the Canadian Top unit adjacent to the Cataloochee Valley in North Carolina.

If weather permits, the park's fire management officials plan to start the burn as early as Wednesday and may continue intermittently through early May. The prescribed burn is part of the park's plan to use controlled burns to restore the composition and open structure of the oak and pine woodlands on upper slopes and ridges.

These natural areas are important to wildlife and the overall ecosystem health. The burns will also increase the cover and diversity of native grasses and wildlife on the forest floor and will improve forage for elk.

Roads and trails will remain open to the public.