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Published on: Jan. 31, 2011

drip torches, leaf rakes and water tanks.

These days, there are a few prescribed fire contractors across the state who can be hired to help do a prescribed burn. These contractors have a narrow window in which to provide their services and should be contacted well in advance of the planned burn. If you feel it is not within your ability to conduct the burn with a high degree of certainty, securing the services of a prescribed burn contractor is a very good option. The Conservation Department offices maintain a list of prescribed fire contractors, or you can visit our website at and search for “conservation contractors.”

Using Prescribed Fire

If you have decided that prescribed fire is a good management tool for your land, and you are willing to take the care and time needed to do it right, you have one more question to answer: “Am I going to use prescribed fire periodically, and continue to do it right?”

Prescribed burning, just as grazing, haying or chemical application, is a management practice that must be repeated for maximum effectiveness. Forage production will only benefit for a few years following a burn.

Plant diversity and vigor will only be stimulated for a few years with one burn. Plant diversity will probably continue to change over time in a managed natural community, but only if periodic prescribed burns are continued. The frequency of burns will vary by plant community from once every few years to once in 10-20 years, but repeat burns will be necessary to maintain the benefits of using prescribed fire.

If you plan to use prescribed fire:

  • Contact the Conservation Department for information and training.
  • Prepare a burn plan.
  • Stick to your burn plan—call it off if anything isn’t right.
  • Get the most current Fire Weather Forecast information from NOAA or your nearest Conservation Department office.
  • On burn day, let your neighbors, the local Conservation Department office and county 911 fire dispatch know when you plan to ignite the prescribed burn.
  • Consider securing the services of a prescribed fire contractor.
  • Be committed to using prescribed fire periodically.


Prescribed fire is a highly effective management tool, but it takes time, thought and commitment to ensure that you burn only what you want. If you aren’t going to achieve what you want, don’t burn it, and if you can’t contain it, don’t light it.

Prescribed Fire Can

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