March is Prescribed Fire Awareness Month, highlighting the importance of “good fires”

March 16, 2022

Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina has seen more wildfires in the first three months of 2022 than during all of the 2021 fiscal year. Prescribed burns conducted by trained land managers are the best management tool available for preventing larger and more frequent outbreaks of wildfire.


Governor Henry McMaster declared that March 2022 is Prescribed Fire Awareness Month in South Carolina, and land management organizations and government agencies are using the awareness month to shine a light on the importance of these “good fires.” Prescribed, or controlled, burning is the skilled application of fire under planned weather and fuel conditions to achieve specific forest and land management objectives. They help reduce hazardous forest fuels, improve habitat conditions for wildlife and recreation, and protect the people and property in surrounding communities from dangerous wildfires.


When weather conditions are right, state and federal fire crews are planning controlled burns at several South Carolina State Parks in the coming months, including: Aiken State Park in Aiken County, Barnwell State Park in Barnwell County, Cheraw State Park in Chesterfield County, Devils Fork State Park in Oconee County, Givhans Ferry State Park in Dorchester County, Keowee-Toxaway State Park in Pickens County, Kings Mountain State Park in York County, Oconee State Park in Oconee County, and Table Rock State Park in Pickens County.

Last year, professional crews burned approximately 1,300 acres in South Carolina State Parks. Approximately 2,000 acres are included in the burn plans for this year, pending appropriate weather conditions.


Immediately after a prescribed burn, the area may seem unsightly for a short time. But that appearance is deceiving, as the charred material returns nutrients to the soil, enriching the ground to make way for new growth, which emerges in as little as a few days or weeks.

Fire experts schedule controlled burns based on weather conditions, making it difficult to provide early advance notice to the public. They adjust the schedule as needed to ensure the safety of residents and crew members. Current burning notifications are posted on the South Carolina Forestry Commission’s website. Immediate advance notice is provided to local fire and law enforcement officials.


Burns are being planned and conducted all across South Carolina by various local, state, and federal agencies. For more information about controlled burns planned in South Carolina State Parks, read SCPRT’s January 2022 news release here. To learn more about controlled burns throughout South Carolina, visit the South Carolina Forestry Commission’s website. For general information about the partner agencies on this release, visit southcarolinaparks.com, scfc.gov, nature.org/SC, and fs.usda.gov.


Quotes:

“Prescribed burning is one of the many forest management tools South Carolina State Parks uses to create and maintain valuable habitats for our native wildlife species, increase forest health, reduce wildfire risk, and manage for resilience to the effects of climate change. Prescribed fires in state parks are only possible through interagency partnerships, and they allow us to engage with and educate our visitors about the importance of active forest management and conservation.” - Rachel Snuggs, South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism Forester


“Every prescribed burn accomplishes multiple benefits. Most of the woodlands in SC are adapted to fire and burned regularly, historically speaking. When responsible land managers use prescribed fire as a tool under weather and fuel conditions that are just right, we can maintain wildlife habitat and forest health while also reducing the severity of wildfires.” - Darryl Jones, South Carolina Forestry Commission Forest Protection Chief


“Collaborative prescribed fire operations are essential in protecting our communities from the threat of wildfire and we are pleased to work with our partners across the state of South Carolina in achieving this goal.” - Robbie Sitzlar, Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests Acting Forest Supervisor


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MEDIA CONTACTS:

  • Sam Queen, Director of Corporate Communications, South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism, 803-767-3568, sam@scprt.com
  • Doug Wood, Director of Communications, South Carolina Forestry Commission, 803-968-1576, dwood@scfc.gov
  • Cara Chancellor, Marketing Manager, The Nature Conservancy, 772-532-9178, cchancellor@tnc.org
  • Jeff Davids, Public Affairs Specialist, Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests, 843-336-2216, jeff.davids@usda.gov
  • Josef Orosz, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Forest Service Savannah River, 530-440-9741, josef.orosz@usda.gov
Need more information?   Sam Queen
Director of Corporate Communications
SC Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism
1205 Pendleton Street, Columbia, SC 29201
Sam@scprt.com | 803-734-1779
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