Newsroom

Controlled Burn Season Beginning in Longleaf Land

Folks who live in and near longleaf pine forests from the Sandhills to the Coast will soon start seeing smoke!

TNC staff dressed in fire-protective gear stand near flames at the edge of a forest at a controlled burn.
Controlled Burn TNC staff at a controlled burn © Sydney Bezanson

Media Contacts

Folks who live in and near longleaf pine forests from the Sandhills to the Coast will soon start seeing smoke as The Nature Conservancy and its conservation partners conduct controlled burns (also known as prescribed fire) to restore the forest. Longleaf pine forests are adapted to frequent, low-intensity fires. These fires knock back shrubs and other vegetation—allowing plants such as Venus flytraps to thrive on the forest floor. Some plants need fire for their very existence; wiregrass won’t reseed unless it is exposed to fire. Fire improves habitat for animals such as turkey and deer. Controlled burns also reduce ticks and remove vegetation that can fuel large, damaging wildfires.

Most controlled burns are conducted January through May, although some burning will continue through the summer months and into the fall. Nature Conservancy crews burn on TNC preserves and help conservation partners with burns on other property. Other land trusts, local prescribed burn associations and government organizations also burn longleaf forest in the region.

Fire is integral to longleaf forest. Before European colonists arrived, Indigenous People managed the forest with fire. Back then, longleaf pine was the dominant tree on the coastal plain from what is now southern Virginia to eastern Texas. As Europeans colonized the region, they exploited longleaf pine—harvesting it to build boats and tapping it for its resin. In the 20th century, fire suppression and coastal development also took a toll on longleaf pine forest. A tree that had once blanketed 90 million acres from Virginia to Texas was reduced to just 3 million acres. Today TNC and its conservation partners are restoring longleaf pine; there are now 5.2 million acres of longleaf forest in the Southeast.

Controlled burns are undertaken by highly trained crews with years of experience and only under the most favorable weather conditions. 

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.