What Are Prescribed Burns?

Controlled fire

Prescribed burns, managed fires, controlled burn, prescribed fire—they’re all different terms, but they describe the same thing. Prescribed burns are fires that are set on purpose to accomplish certain goals in your woods.

These fires burn at a relatively low temperature, and they’re closely monitored and managed so they don’t get out of control. They have a long history in North America: American Indians and early European settlers frequently used fire to reshape their environment, because it could quickly clear large areas for farming or growing wild food plants for livestock and wildlife.

Today, trained landowners or professional forest managers conduct most prescribed burns. They plan and prepare extensively to keep forests and their residents safe. New techniques and technology have even given forest professionals the tools to limit the impact of smoke and more effectively stamp out blazes if they do escape.

Together, these developments have helped fire make a comeback as a forest management tool.

Many landowners are now turning to prescribed burns to improve the value of their property—and with good reason. Prescribed burns are usually cheaper than herbicides or specialized equipment for controlling unwanted vegetation, and it offers a number of important benefits for the health of your woods.

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