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May 19, 2009

Prescribed Fire Councils becoming effective national voice on burning

Twenty-first century prescribed fire managers face new and increasingly complex challenges that limit or threaten the use of prescribed fire. These challenges are broad and now greater than any one agency or state can address alone.

For this reason, several years ago the Longleaf Alliance board discussed the need to address regionally fire use needs by partnering prescribed fire councils’ efforts. As a result, a group of partners formed a stakeholder group to meet in conjunction with the Longleaf Alliance’s 2006 Biennial Conference in Tifton, Ga. The consensus from the diverse groMapup was to create a "National Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils," and a scoping group was formed. The scoping group developed strategic and organizational plans and assisted many councils through their initial development. On Nov. 4, 2008, a newly formed Governing Board accepted the roles and responsibilities to begin the process of formally establishing the Coalition of Fire Councils. The nine member board is made up of federal, state, private, university, and non-profit members with strong backgrounds in prescribed fire from local to national levels.

"The South Carolina Prescribed Fire Council was well represented at the original stakeholder meeting in Tifton, Ga., and its leadership has been instrumental in the development of the Coalition of Fire Councils," said Mark Melvin, Coalition chair.

The overarching goal of the Coalition of Fire Councils is to create one voice aimed at assisting fire practitioners, general public/citizens, policymakers, and regulators concerning prescribed fire issues. Its mission is to promote the appropriate use of prescribed fire for public safety, resource management, and sustaining the environment and its first goal is to promote prescribed fire councils in all fifty states. The Coalition of Fire Councils will provide a forum for individual councils to voice and address issues of national concern. The Coalition of Fire Councils will facilitate communication among interested parties in the field of prescribed fire, provide a focal point for sharing ideas and information, and create opportunities for prescribed fire collaboration. For more information about the Coalition of Fire Councils or prescribed fire councils, contact Mark A. Melvin at mark.melvin@jonesctr.org or (229) 734-4706.
The mission statement of the South Carolina Prescribed Fire Council is to foster cooperation among all parties in the Palmetto State with an interest in prescribed fire to optimize burning opportunities, to encourage the exchange of information, techniques and experiences among practitioners of prescribed fire and to promote public understanding of the importance and benefits of prescribed fire. The wise use of prescribed fire improves public safety by reducing fuel loads in the forest and enhances ecosystems that require or benefit from fire. Carefully burned lands are also more aesthetically pleasing.

For more information on prescribed burning assistance, call your local S.C. Forestry Commission office.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.

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