Fighting Fire with Fire: Prescribed Burning in State Parks
At first glance it seems quite odd to set fires intentionally, but prescribed fires are great management practices to support forest health and prevent wildfires.
Prescribed burns, also known as controlled burns or prescribed fire, refers to the controlled application of fire by experts, and are dependent on weather conditions, such as wind, temperature and humidity.
Controlled burns reduce hazardous fuels such as sticks, leaves and pine needles that build up on the forest floor over time and can lead to wildfires. Reducing these fuels at regular intervals is a valuable tool for protecting communities and neighbors around South Carolina State Parks from future wildfires.
Fire is a natural part of the landscape, so wildlife and the habitat benefit from prescribed burns. Fire removes thick undergrowth, making travel and feeding much easier. It also promotes new growth of food for wildlife. In addition to this, fire minimizes the spread of pest insects, recycles nutrients back to the soil and improves habitat for threatened and endangered species.
“Prescribed burning is one of the many forest management tools SC State Parks uses to create and maintain valuable habitat for our native wildlife species, increase forest health and manage for resilience to the effects of climate change. Prescribed fire on state parks is only possible through interagency partnerships and allows us to engage with and educate our visitors about the importance of active forest management and conservation,” says SCPRT Forester, Rachel Snuggs.
Prescribed burns are planned at the following parks in 2022:
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
Table Rock State Park in Pickens County
When a burn is scheduled, park officials make every effort to notify the public of any disruption to visitor experience. Trails and roads in and around the parks may be temporarily closed during burns, and any closures will be clearly posted.
To learn more about prescribed burns in South Carolina and view burn notifications, please visit the South Carolina Forestry Commission’s website.