The General Assembly finds that prescribed burning of forestlands is a management tool that is beneficial to North Carolina's public safety, forest and wildlife resources, environment, and economy. The General Assembly finds that the following are benefits that result from prescribed burning of forestlands:
(1) Prescribed burning reduces the naturally occurring buildup of vegetative fuels on forestlands, thereby reducing the risk and severity of wildfires and lessening the loss of life and property.
(2) The State's ever-increasing population is resulting in urban development directly adjacent to fire-prone forestlands, referred to as a woodland-urban interface area. The use of prescribed burning in these woodland-urban interface areas substantially reduces the risk of wildfires that cause damage.
(3) Many of North Carolina's natural ecosystems require periodic fire for their survival. Prescribed burning is essential to the perpetuation, restoration, and management of many plant and animal communities. Prescribed burning benefits game, nongame, and endangered wildlife species by increasing the growth and yield of plants that provide forage and an area for escape and brooding and that satisfy other habitat needs.
(4) Forestlands are economic, biological, and aesthetic resources of statewide significance. In addition to reducing the frequency and severity of wildfires, prescribed burning of forestlands helps to prepare sites for replanting and natural seeding, to control insects and diseases, and to increase productivity.
(5) Prescribed burning enhances the resources on public use lands, such as State and national forests, wildlife refuges, nature preserves, and game lands. Prescribed burning enhances private lands that are managed for wildlife refuges, nature preserves, and game lands. Prescribed burning enhances private lands that are managed for wildlife, recreation, and other purposes.
As North Carolina's population grows, pressures resulting from liability issues and smoke complaints discourage or limit prescribed burning so that these numerous benefits to forestlands often are not attainable. By recognizing the benefits of prescribed burning and by adopting requirements governing prescribed burning, the General Assembly helps to educate the public, avoid misunderstandings, and reduce complaints about this valuable management tool. (1999-121, s. 1; 2011-145, s. 13.25(aa).)
Last modified: March 23, 2014