Prescribed burns are often used as part of campaigns to restore native vegetation, because they can be used to totally clear a piece of land for replanting. Prescribed burning may also be used to create a firebreak around a home, business, or other developed area.
A controlled burn involves identifying the area to be burned (the "burn unit"), establishing control lines to prevent the fire from burning unintended areas, and intentionally setting the burn unit on fire.
A controlled burn is a fire that is started on purpose and kept under control. It is done by people who are trained in controlling a fire, with the right equipment and set in the right weather conditions. It is done to help the environment or to make an area safer for people.
Controlled forest fires have valuable benefits. Controlled fires help restore nutrients to soil, which can lead to future plant growth and create ideal areas where certain animals can thrive. Controlled forest fires help manage weeds, brush, shrubs, and trees. Such managed burning can prevent wildfires that could destroy lives and property.
Two types of controlled burning are commonly used. The first, broadcast burning, involves lighting fires across a tract of land, from a few hectares to thousands of hectares in size. The second, pile burning, involves stacks of vegetation that are burned individually. Pile burning can be used when conditions are not safe to set a larger fire. In this case, leaves, limbs, and other debris are cut, collected, and stacked up to be burned, often at a time when weather conditions permit. Pile burning is sometimes used to burn slash, the remnants of forest thinning or logging operations.
Although a managed forest fire can create positive results, many fires can happen because of a natural event, such as a lightning strike. When it strikes a forest that is hot and dry, the brush or leaves can quickly make the entire event grow out of control.
Surprisingly, the animal casualties from wildfires are low. Animals survive by burrowing into the ground or fleeing to safer areas. Conversely, fires can help rid an ecosystem of invasive species that have not adapted to regular wildland fires. While animals and plants within fire-prone ecosystems have adapted to thrive within a cycle of wildfires, invasive plants and animals are less likely to recover and could thus be controlled or even eradicated from the ecosystem they invaded.
One of the most significant dangers of a modern forest fire occurs when they are near an urban setting. These are the places where homes and developed areas border the forest. When a fire occurs, it is not just the trees and underbrush with that will begin to burn. Any structures that are in the way could be lost as well.
Here are some ways to prevent a forest fire all year long, 1: Don’t burn dangerous things like aerosol cans, pressurized containers, glass, or aluminum cans. 2: Make sure children and pets are supervised near campfires. 3: Never leave your campfire unattended. 4: To extinguish, pour lots of water on your campfire.
Newberry Soil & Water Conservation District has a Prescribed Fire trailer to Rent. The Trailer houses all the necessary equipment to start a controlled burn.
Call Crista for more information. 803-597-3160
Credits: Natalie Regoli, USDA Forest Service, National Geographic