South Carolina Forestry Commission
Best Management Practices

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Prescribed Burning

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Avoid

An effort has been made to italicize technical words or phrases and clearly define them in the glossary.

South Carolina law requires that the South Carolina Forestry Commission be notified prior to burning. Precautions must be taken to prevent the fire's escape. Ensure that the burn site is enclosed by adequate fuel breaks; have sufficient manpower, tools, and equipment available to control the fire; and stay with the fire until it is safe.

Prescribed fire is a very useful silvicultural tool. It can be used to prepare a site for planting by reducing logging debris or to prepare a seedbed for seed fall. Prescribed fire can also be used later in the life of a forest for silvicultural purposes, to improve wildlife habitat, and to reduce the hazard of wildfire.

Studies have shown that properly planned and conducted prescribed burning has no significant impact on water quality. Most problems associated with prescribed burning are a result of poor planning and changing weather conditions. Where a prescribed fire becomes too hot, the entire humus layer can be consumed, exposing the underlying mineral soil to erosion.

Prescribed burning requires an understanding of weather conditions, fuel conditions, wildfire danger, smoke management, and a host of other factors. It should only be attempted by experienced personnel.

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