“Tennessee lost thousands of acres to wildfire in 2016, but I know I’ve seen people intentionally setting fire to forests near here and watching them burn. Why are they doing this? Is it safe?”
What you’ve likely seen is called a “prescribed fire” – which is a common practice on forests throughout the southeast. Fire-dependent forest communities, such as those that exist on the south and west facing slopes of the Smoky Mountains, have historically had fire in the landscape. When used frequently, prescribed fire is an effective tool in maintaining forest health and wildlife habitat.
However, when fuel levels increase from decades of the absence of fire, it creates hazardous conditions which can lead to catastrophic wildfire. Safety is always a concern when using prescribed fire as a tool; however, before and during these prescribed fires, weather conditions are closely monitored, and several safety precautions are taken. Prescribed fires should always be accompanied by a burn plan, carried out by experienced technicians, and supervised by a certified burn manager with adequate resources.
Burns are also planned at seasonally appropriate times to optimize control of the fire’s intensity. Used prudently and properly, prescribed fire can help create ideal habitat for game species such as turkey, quail and deer. It can also improve growing conditions for fire-tolerant species such as native warm season grasses, wild blueberry, upland oaks, Shortleaf pine, and Loblolly pine. Panther Creek Forestry has certified burn managers on staff, and hundreds of hours experience in supervising prescribed burns.
Call us or email us to discuss whether prescribed fire may be a useful tool to help improve your property, or to discuss any of your land management needs.