Clean Air Act visibility and prescribed fire
Document Type: Conference Paper
Author(s): B. V. Polkowsky
Editor(s): D. C. Bryan
Publication Year: 1997

Cataloging Information

  • air quality
  • disturbance
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • multiple resource management
  • national parks
  • natural resource legislation
  • species diversity
  • wilderness areas
  • wilderness fire management
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 36117
Tall Timbers Record Number: 10463
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


The Clean Air Act sets a national goal of no human-made impairment of visibility in certain national parks and wilderness areas. In many parts of the country these areas, or lands adjacent, are managed with the use of prescribed fire. The Environmental Protection Agency is now developing the regulatory program to address regional visibility impairment (regional haze), to which the emissions from prescribed fire and 'natural fire' contribute. These rules will require states to work together to understand the emissions and atmospheric processes that create regional visibility impairment and develop a plan to reduce that impairment. In taking any action to reduce impairment, the plan can consider economic costs and other environmental considerations. Concerning this balancing of costs and benefits, this paper advocates four things. First, land managers should plan the emissions from prescribed fire on a regional basis to diminish the likelihood of major regional impairment. Second, the reduction in emissions, if any, of prescribed fire versus wildfire should be documented. Third, land managers should fairly consider the alternatives to prescribed fire. Finally, the land managers should clearly present the non-air quality benefits of prescribed fire such as preservation of species and habitat and reductions in wildfire damage.

Polkowsky, B. V. 1997. Clean Air Act visibility and prescribed fire, in Bryan, D. C., Proceedings of the environmental regulation & prescribed fire conference: legal and social challenges. Tampa, FL. Center for Professional Development, Florida State University,Tallahassee, FL. p. 38-42,