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5300 Sunningdale Drive
Charlotte, NC 28277-2676
March 23, 1999


Raleigh, NC 27601-2808

Dear Senator

I am writing you as Chairman of the North Carolina Division, Society of American Foresters, in support of Senate Bill 247, Prescribed Burning in Forests/AB. The NC Division, SAF is comprised of 618 foresters and other professional members in the state.

Senate Bill 247 correctly identifies prescribed burning as a forest management tool which can serve many purposes:

1. Fire plays an important role in many forest ecosystems. Fire intensity and effects vary from stand replacement conflagrations to creeping understory fires. Qualified foresters, using prescribed burning, can reduce the incidence of catastrophic wildfires while improving the forest habitat.

2. Historic fire prevention activities have been very successful, but they have led to the build up of fuels which pose potentially serious fire danger to forests, human dwellings, and lives of people living in the wildland-urban interface. Controlled, prescribed burning can reduce this hazard to forests and the residents of this interface area.

3. Prescribed fire may be used for fuels reduction and for site preparation for natural and artificial regeneration.

4. Prescribed fire may be used to maintain and improve habitat for certain wildlife species.

5. Prescribed fire may be used to control certain forest insects and diseases.

6. Prescribed fire may be used to modify or remove understory forest vegetation.

Smoke is the natural by-product of combustion. Smoke management is an aspect of prescribe burn planning. The potential liability to prescribed burners is a deterrent to conducting these beneficial burns. If the General Assembly passes this bill the liability from smoke and public nuisance will be reduced, and certified burners would be encouraged to pursue the benefits of prescribed burning. Without this protection, many potential burners are reluctant to conduct any prescribed burns. The North Carolina Division, Society of American Foresters urges you to vote in favor of this legislation.

A detailed statement of the history and benefits of prescribed burning is attached. This is a Policy Statement from the Society of American Foresters.


Eugene S. Robbins, Chair
North Carolina Division, Society of American Foresters