RALEIGH, N.C. (Feb. 13, 2012) —The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is raising awareness of the benefits of prescribed burn during Prescribed Fire Awareness Week, Feb. 13-19, 2012.
Gov. Bev. Perdue has signed a proclamation declaring the second full week in February a time for citizens to “learn more about prescribed burning and the essential role fire plays.”
The Commission is one of several agencies and groups teaching the importance of prescribed fire in North Carolina ecosystems.
“Prescribed fire is one of our key tools in forestry and wildlife habitat management,” said N.C. Prescribed Fire board member Dean Simon, a wildlife forester with the Commission. “Many plants and animals need prescribed fire to survive and thrive, and burns also reduce the threat of large, dangerous wildfires.”
Fire once occurred naturally across North Carolina. Low-intensity fires burned every few years, fueled by grass, leaves, pine straw and other forest debris. They kept the forest open, allowing sunlight to penetrate to its floor and reducing buildup of dangerous fuel loads. Fire suppression altered the landscape, allowing fuels to accumulate and putting people and communities in jeopardy.
There are many fire-dependent ecosystems across the state, from the mountains to the coast, including most oak and pine forests. Without fire, many native plants and animals will disappear due to lack of food, habitat and conditions needed for them to exist.
Prescribed fire participants receive extensive training to ensure that they are careful to protect surrounding communities, themselves and the land they are working to restore. Fire experts do a great deal of work before the burn. They create a burn plan, which includes smoke-management strategies, fire-control measures, acceptable weather parameters, equipment and personnel needs. The plan also details how the ecosystem will benefit from fire.
For more information on benefits, download “Using Fire to Improve Wildlife Habitat.”
The N.C. Prescribed Fire Council brings together natural resource professionals, public and private land managers, and others who support the use of prescribed fire.