Why do we burn?

Fire is an important part of management on the National Forests in North Carolina. These fires not only reduce the risk of wildfires, but also benefits natural resources and increases biodiversity and healthy ecosystems.


Without periodic fire, oak and pine forests can become overloaded with flammable shrubs and fuels, which can result in catastrophic wildfires that threaten communities and lives. By using prescribed fire, we can eliminate the fuels that lead to wildfires that are difficult to contain.


Fires can also control or eliminate unwanted species like non-natives and invasive plants that can cause damage to ecosystems. By ridding our forests of these, we can promote the growth of trees, wildflowers, and other plants that contribute to biodiversity. Many species also rely on fire to germinate, including grasses and legumes.


Wildlife also benefits from regulated prescribed fire. The lush understory growth that occurs post-fire provides cover and seeds for many small mammals, turkeys, and quail. Many rare reptiles also prefer frequently burned areas, including the gopher tortoise, pine snake, and pine barrens treefrog.


Fire experts create a prescribed fire plan, which describes weather conditions necessary for  mitigating the impacts of smoke and achieving the desirable fire effects. . Fire managers are held accountable for managing these smoke levels and smoke exposure from prescribed fires.  This smoke from prescribed fires is much shorter in duration and less intense than smoke exposure from wildfires.


Safety for our firefighters and communities is our top priority when burning. All prescribed fires are carefully planned before initiating and only occur when environmental conditions permit. Proper personnel and equipment will be on site during the burning. 


Prescribed Burn