Unique New Burning Law Reduces Liability and Promotes Safe Use of Fire for Healthier Forests

The Nature Conservancy applauds S.C. Legislature for passing act that will protect forestry investments, increase acres burned and reduce damages from wildfires.

COLUMBIA, SC | April 05, 2012

South Carolina forests, wildlife and sportsmen all benefited from a unique law enacted today that was developed and promoted by the South Carolina Prescribed Fire Council, which includes The Nature Conservancy, South Carolina Forestry Association, South Carolina Forestry Commission and a broad coalition of partners. A full list of supporters is attached.

“This law reducing liability for conducting carefully planned fires is great news for private landowners,” said Conservancy Fire Manager Tom Dooley. “Fire is essential to healthy forests and this act will encourage private landowners to safely reduce forest fuels which will dramatically reduce the risks of major wildfire. At the same time, it will greatly improve habitat for wildlife species.”

The legislation is critical to furthering the Conservancy’s work with private and public partners across 10 southern states to restore the once-majestic longleaf pine forests, a decades-long endeavor. “Safe application of controlled burning is an essential part of this effort,” said Eric Krueger, program manager.

“Passage of the Prescribed Fire Act comes after several years of hard work by many partners who understand the high value of controlled burning for forest and habitat management and the reduction of wildfire fuel loading. We owe appreciation to the many partners that supported the Bill as well as our legislators and the Governor’s office that assisted in refining the Bill and ultimately making it law,” said Gene Kodama, South Carolina State Forester.

Prescribed fire is necessary to keep forests healthy as most natural fires from lightening must be extinguished due to nearby development. The Prescribed Fire Act requires that a fire plan be prepared and a certified fire manager be present, along with a plan for the smoke. The smoke guidelines make the SC law unique, as the only other two states with fire statutes, Florida and Georgia, don’t have this provision.

Supporters of The Prescribed Fire Act

Association of Consulting Foresters
Camo Coalition
Coastal Conservation League
International Paper
Kapstone Charleston Kraft, LLC
National Wild Turkey Federation
Palmetto Agribusiness Council
Palmetto Center for Policy Alternatives
Palmetto Conservation Foundation
Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA)
Resource Management Services, LLC
Society of American Foresters—SC Chapter
SC Department of Natural Resources
SC Farm Bureau
SC Forestry Association
SC Forestry Commission
SC Foresters Council
SC Prescribed Fire Council Association
SC State Chapter of the Quality Deer Management Association
SC Timber Producers
SC Tree Farm Committee
SC Wildlife Federation
The Nature Conservancy
US Forest Service

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at www.nature.org. To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit www.nature.org/global. To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Tom Dooley
The Nature Conservancy in South Carolina
(843) 937-8807 Ext. 26

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