Settin’ the woods on fire!

The use of prescribed fire as a land management tool has deep and ancient roots in South Carolina heritage. But, according to a wildlife biologist and forester, a variety of factors make conducting prescribed burns increasingly challenging. Biologist-forester Johnny Stowe says properly conducted burns, also called controlled burns, have multiple benefits. They restore and maintain vital habitat for wildlife. Many plants thrive only in regularly burned forests. According to the South Carolina DNR, the demise of the longleaf pine forest and associated grasslands, which once made the state the best for quail hunting, is tightly correlated to the decrease in woods-burning. Prescribed fire enhances public safety, according to Stowe, by reducing or even eliminating fuel loads, thereby making wildfire on that area impossible or unlikely for some time afterwards. Wildfires often lose intensity or go out when they reach areas that have been prescribed burned.