Fire typically conjures images of destruction. However, most forests rely on fire to reduce dense underbrush, restore nutrients to the soil, and provide important wildlife habitat. Over the last century, the United States has had a policy of fire suppression due to the risks wildfires pose to humans and communities. Unfortunately, this policy has led to unhealthy, overly-dense conditions in many forests, the loss of some unique, fire-dependant ecosystems, and a degraded wildlife habitat. Without controlled fire, forests become less resilient which creates the potential for massive greenhouse gas emissions when catastrophic wildfires do occur.
AFF supports increased opportunities for the use of controlled burning on sustainably managed family forests. Any policies governing the use of controlled burning must provide for the safe application of the tool while also ensuring its continued use.
- Ensure Landowners Have a Plan
Controlled burning, typically deliberately ignited, entails burning of woodlands under prescribed conditions and according to applicable laws, to thin dense vegetation and in some cases stimulate new tree growth. Landowners applying controlled burns will develop plans to address any risks associated with the burn, including a plan for controlling fires that burn beyond established perimeters.
- Enable Controlled Burning as Management Tool
Because public sentiments about the risk of wildfires, controlled burning can be viewed as a threat and policies may be put in place to restrict controlled burning. Additionally, due to smoke management and air quality concerns with controlled burning, policies are often enacted to restrict its use for air quality and safety reasons.
- Encourage Science-Based Standards for Insurance
Landowners that wish to apply controlled burning to their land in a safe and effective manner often face inflexible regulatory controls as well as costly insurance requirements. Policy should encourage establishment of quality, science-based standards for insurance and liability coverage that allow the safe application of controlled burning in a cost effective manner.