Prescribed fire is one of the most cost effective tools used to manage fire today. A scientific prescription for each fire, prepared in advance, describes its objectives, fuels, size, the precise environmental conditions under which it will burn, and conditions under which it may be suppressed. The fire may be designed to create a mosaic of diverse habitats for plants and animals, to help endangered species recover, or to reduce fuels and thereby prevent a destructive fire.
Did you know fire can be good for people and the land? After many years of fire exclusion, an ecosystem that needs periodic fire becomes unhealthy. Trees are stressed by overcrowding; fire-dependent species disappear; and flammable fuels build up and become hazardous. The right fire at the right place at the right time:
- Reduces hazardous fuels, protecting human communities from extreme fires;
- Improves habitat for threatened and endangered species;
- Minimizes the spread of pest insects and disease;
- Removes unwanted species that threaten species native to an ecosystem;
- Provides forage for game;
- Recycles nutrients back to the soil; and
- Promotes the growth of trees, wildflowers, and other plants;
More prescribed fires mean fewer extreme wildfires!
Specialists write burn plans for prescribed fires. Burn plans identify - or prescribe - the best conditions under which trees and other plants will burn to get the best results safely. Burn plans consider temperature, humidity, wind, moisture of the vegetation, and conditions for the dispersal of smoke. Prescribed fire specialists compare conditions on the ground to those outlined in burn plans before deciding whether to burn on a given day.
State of South Dakota Prescribed Fire Guide and Policy
Interagency Prescribed Fire Planning and Implementation Procedures Guide
SD Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Air Quality Guidelines for Open Burning
Prescribed Fire Plan Template
Prescribed Fire Go/No-Go Checklist
Agency Administrator Ignition Authorization
Prescribed Fire Complexity Rating System Guide
Complexity Analysis Worksheet
Smoke Management Guide for Prescribed and Wildland Fire