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Know the Facts - Open Burning vs. Prescribed Fire

Prescribed fire or "prescribed burning" is a subject that citizens often ask about with regards to air quality in our state. Please check the information below about controlled burning to better understand the differences between open burning and prescribed fires.

Open Burning
Prescribed Fires

Open Burning is the burning of any material in an open fire or an outdoor container when specifically designed equipment is not used to control the combustion or air pollution from the fire. Legal open burning is typically an activity a person participates in to get rid of unwanted yard debris such as leaves, branches or for other yard care measures. This is the type of fire that is not under the supervision of a skilled professional, but under that of a layperson. Alternatives to this type of open burning exist, and include curbside pick-up, grasscycling, composting, and transporting this type of debris to a land-fill or recycling station.

Prescribed Burning Resources

These sites provide information on the modern principals of wise land stewardship and the careful and professional application of prescribed fire.

For more information on prescribed burning in South Carolina, visit http://www.state.sc.us/forest/fire.htm

Fires, carefully set by skilled professionals to mimic natural fire conditions to prevent devastating wildfires and to help our woodland plants and animals by re-creating the fire patterns they depend on, are known as prescribed fires. Prescribed fires, like any kind of burning, produces smoke. Professional fire managers conduct prescribed burns when conditions are good for smoke dispersal to reduce the chances of smoke-related problems.

Wildfire Hazard Reduction
Wildlife Management
Aesthetic Enhancement
Forest Management
Perpetuating Fire Dependent Species

Most forests in South Carolina burned regularly, even before human settlement. Without frequent fire, large amounts of fuel build up, making it difficult to control wildfires when they occur. By removing some of the fuel (like leaves, pine needles, and twigs) under controlled conditions, the chances of a damaging wildfire is greatly reduced. If there is little fuel, there can be only a little fire.

Many wildlife species benefit from prescribed fire. Fire can remove thick undergrowth, making travel and feeding much easier for some species such as turkey and deer. Fire also promotes growth of valuable wildlife food plants such as legumes and hardwood sprouts.

The open, park-like stand of pine that many people find attractive can best be maintained with the use of prescribed fire.

Prescribed fire can be used to remove unwanted vegetation and logging debris before new pines are planted. It is also a valuable tool to get rid of unwanted brush in a growing pine stand. Prescribed fire effectively controls a disease called brownspot, common in longleaf pine forests.

Many plant and animal species are dependent on periodic fire to create an ecosystem suitable for their growth and reproduction. Among these are pitcher plants, several species of wild orchids, and red-cockaded woodpeckers.

Prescribed Burning Resources

These sites provide information on the modern principals of wise land stewardship and the careful and professional application of prescribed fire.

For more information on prescribed burning in South Carolina, visit http://www.state.sc.us/forest/fire.htm