FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, FEB. 7, 2012
||Brian R. Haines, public information officer
N.C. Forest Service
Prescribed Fire Awareness Week is Feb. 13-19
A fire management specialist with the N.C. Forest Service uses a drip torch during
a prescribed burn at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve in January.
RALEIGH — Feb. 13-19 is Prescribed Fire Awareness Week in North Carolina.
“Prescribed fires are important for managing forests and wildlife habitat, and for reducing the risk of harmful wildfires throughout North Carolina,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.
Prescribed fires are conducted to protect the public and sustain forestlands. Fueled by grass, leaves, pine straw and other forest debris, low-intensity fires once occurred naturally every few years in fire-adapted ecosystems across North Carolina. These fires reduced buildup of dangerous fuel — such as pine straw, sticks and other forest litter — that put people and communities in jeopardy from wildfire. They also reduced competition from invading species and added nutrients back into the soil, allowing native plants and animals to thrive.
“Unburned forests can experience an unnatural buildup of shrubs and dead wood, endangering native plants and animals due to the lack of food, habitat and conditions needed for them to exist,” said State Forester Wib Owen. “Prescribed fire is a safe forest management tool used for native fire-adapted ecosystems and fire-dependent species.”
Burning the same tract of land every three to seven years reduces the buildup of vegetation, decreasing the chance of severe wildfire. Without these recurrent burns, fuel buildup can lead to large, uncontrollable wildfires. Smoke from wildfires usually has a greater impact on communities and carries more pollutants than smoke from controlled burns, Owen said.
Prescribed burn managers receive extensive training to ensure that they are careful to protect surrounding communities and the land they are managing with fire. Managers create a burn plan for the fire, which includes smoke management details, fire control measures, acceptable fuel moisture and weather parameters, and the necessary equipment and personnel required to safely conduct the burn. The plan also details how the forestlands and ecosystem will benefit from the fire.
For more information on Prescribed Fire Awareness Week, contact the N.C. Prescribed Fire Council at www.ncprescribedfirecouncil.org or Brian Haines, public information officer with the N.C. Forest Service, at 919-857-4828.