Clemson Extension: Controlled burns benefit our forests

BY RYAN BEAN
Clemson Extension
Posted 3/11/18

The weather in South Carolina in March can be characterized as crisp, cool and perfect for a controlled burn. That's why it's fitting that Gov. Henry McMaster has proclaimed March 2018 Prescribed Fire Awareness Month.Prescribed …

This item is available in full to subscribers

Clemson Extension: Controlled burns benefit our forests

Posted

The weather in South Carolina in March can be characterized as crisp, cool and perfect for a controlled burn. That's why it's fitting that Gov. Henry McMaster has proclaimed March 2018 Prescribed Fire Awareness Month.

Prescribed burning is a very important management tool here in the Southeastern U.S. It is a necessary tool for both managers of forests and crop fields. Prescribed fire has been described as "fire applied in a knowledgeable manner to forest and grassland fuels on a specific land area under selected weather conditions to accomplish predetermined, well-defined management objectives."

As such, it goes without saying that any time fire is applied to the ground, it should be done with the utmost care and concern given to many factors.

One of the most common reasons for the use of prescribed fire in our forests is to reduce fuel loading. Over time, trees drop their foliage which will continue to build up in the absence of fire. When conducting a prescribed fire, the fuels will typically only include tree litter, grasses and small debris. In the case of a wildfire, where the fire gains much more intensity, more fuels become available, which leads to further damage and added difficulty in controlling them. In an effort to reduce the possibility of catastrophic wildfires, land managers use prescribed fire to reduce these fuels in order to reduce the risk of losing valuable timber growth, damage to property and structures and even loss of life.

"Prescribed burning plays a crucial role in forest and land management objectives. When a forest is managed using prescribed, not only is the result aesthetically pleasing, but fuels are reduced, and the risk for damaging wildfires is much less," says Ryan Bean, Area Forestry and Natural Resources agent with Clemson Cooperative Extension Service.

So, next time you see smoke as a result of a controlled burn, remember, prescribed burning is an essential tool in the health and safety of South Carolina's forestlands.

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.