Fire has always been part of the environment, and one of the most important natural agents of change. Fire plays a vital role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. Native Americans understood this and used fire to hunt game, maintain rangelands and keep forests healthy.
Prescribed fire is a planned fire; it is also known as “controlled burn.” A prescribed fire is one of the most important tools used to reduce wildfire risk to communities, restore habitats, and to achieve land-management objectives. Fire management specialists consider objectives such as public and employee safety, weather, topography, fuels, size, the precise environmental conditions under which it will burn, and conditions under which it may be suppressed.
Prescribed fire is generally less expensive and yields ecological benefits that cannot be achieved by other means, such as mechanical thinning or logging. Prescribed fires restore some of the ecological benefits that were historically gained from naturally occurring fires. There are many potential goals that can be achieved by using prescribed fire. Here are a few examples:
- Reduce surface and ladder fuels that contribute to increased risk of uncharacteristically severe wildfire.
- Reduce risk local communities from wildfire.
- Help protect natural resources such as timber and critical habitat.
- Promote native species and reduce encroachment of invasive species.
- Enhance landscape resiliency and recovery from a wildfire event.
- Improve firefighter ability to safely and effectively respond to and suppress wildfire.