What is Prescribed Fire? Prescribed (Rx) fire, or fire ignited under known conditions of fuel, weather, and topography to achieve specified objectives, is used in a variety of landscapes and contexts in northern California. Prescribed fire is an important tool in wildfire hazard reduction, ecosystem restoration, vegetation management, and wildlife habitat enhancement; it is also an important cultural resource, and it has application in forest management and rangeland improvement. The versatile nature of prescribed fire is evidenced by its diverse users, which include state and federal land management agencies, timber companies, tribes, non-governmental organizations (including fire safe councils), and private landowners, among others.
What are the Issues Facing Prescribed Fire? Prescribed fire is complex in nature; successful implementation requires careful planning, specific weather conditions, qualified crews, funding, public support, and the satisfaction of various laws and regulations, at the least. These restrictions make it difficult for prescribed fire practitioners to fulfill management goals, and they are often unable to treat all of the areas for which they've planned.
Major obstacles include:
Narrow burn window (conditions, such as wind speed, relative humidity, and fuel moisture, do not fall within conditions outlined in the burn plan)
Air quality regulations and environmental laws
Lack of trained personnel
Lack of fundingLiability/insurance limitations
Addressing Impediments to Prescribed Fire
The Northern California Prescribed Fire Council is a collective of prescribed fire practitioners and advocates that works toaddress the obstacles listed above. Through collaboration, public outreach, and other efforts, the Council aims to increase understanding and acceptability of prescribed fire in the public realm, while working together in the management realm to improve techniques, increase training opportunities, and ameliorate permitting and other regulatory hurdles.
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