Fire: use it or lose it!
Document Type: Conference Paper
Author(s): K. M. Robertson; W. E. Palmer; R. E. Masters
Publication Year: 2004

Cataloging Information

  • burning permits
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • education
  • fire frequency
  • fire management
  • fuel management
  • histories
  • land management
  • land use
  • liability
  • Longleaf Alliance
  • longleaf pine
  • national forests
  • natural resource legislation
  • pine forests
  • private lands
  • public information
  • Red Hills
  • state forests
  • wilderness areas
  • wildlife
  • wildlife habitat management
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: July 24, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 42366
Tall Timbers Record Number: 17428
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: SD 397 .P59 L666 2004
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, 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 purpose of this presentation is to reiterate the ecological importance of frequent fire for maintenance of upland ecosystems in the South. We present the Red Hills experience, where fire use has remained the dominant land management practice, as an exception to regional trends. We summarize information on obstacles for conducting prescribed fire based on phone interviews with 15 wildlife and forestry professionals from 12 Southern states. We also compare and contrast burning regulations across the Southeast to assess the regional consistency of prescribed fire regulations and promotion of prescribed fire. Our results suggest that wildlife and forestry professionals as well as most private forest land owners share common ideas about the importance of fire for maintaining southern pine ecosystems and that increasing the use of prescribed fire is needed. Knowledge of how to burn does not appear to be an obstacle. Nevertheless, only a portion of the area that should be burned for wildlife and fuel management goals is being burned each year (70% of federal lands, 35% of state lands, <5% of private lands). On private lands, landowner and fire practitioner concern about liability is the greatest obstacle to burning and will likely increase in the near future. On public lands, funding and political priority are key limitations to burning. We conclude that needs for preserving the culture of prescribed burning and its many benefits include 1) more cost-share and preferably incentive payments to encourage adoption of prescribed fire, 2) provision of reliable actuarial data and business plans to insurance companies to encourage them to insure burn practitioners, 3) expansion of at-cost (or for-profit) prescribed burn services provided by state agencies to meet current demand, 4) permitting systems that take into account habitat type and recent burn history, 5) greater consensus on management objectives between wildlife and forestry agencies, and 6) increased education in urban areas about the benefits of prescribed burning.

Online Link(s):
Robertson, K. M., W. E. Palmer, and R. E. Masters. 2004. Fire: use it or lose it!, Proceedings of the Fifth Longleaf Alliance Regional Conference: Conference Program and Abstracts: Longleaf Pine: Making Dollars and Sense: 12-15 October 2004, Hattiesburg, MS. The Longleaf Alliance,Auburn, AL. p. 107-110,