5 Steps to a Better Burn Plan

A burn plan should meet your personal land management objectives and reflect your local needs. A basic prescribed burn plan should include the following five points:

  1. Background information: In this section include your name and contact information. Include the section, township and range of the property you will burn. This information is usually necessary to obtain a burn permit from local forestry commissions. Include clear directions and distance from the nearest town. Finally, describe the land and vegetation to be burned and the date you plan to burn.
  2. Notificiation: List all contact information for your local forestry commission and local sevices, such as fire departments, adjointing landowners and other neighbhors. Include their phone numbers, dates you contacted them and the name of the person you notified. In the event you have to stay in contact with these people, keep their numbers handy on your burn plan. 
  3. Weather conditions and smoke management: List the ideal weather conditions under which you plan to burn. This will require some research and a little know-how. Include the temperature, relative humidity, wind direction and wind speed. Winds can shift rapidly, and this part of the plan allows you to consider where winds could carry the burn, as well as nearby areas that could be sensitive to smoke, such as highways, schools, subdivisions or hospitals. 
  4. Equipment and personnel needed: This part of the plan helps you ensure all firefighting equipment and personnel are on hand for the burn. Outline equipment, such as ignition sources (i.e., drop torch or propane torch), rakes, fire flappers, ATV sprayers full of water and a weather radio. List all workers and contact information. Include a reminder to have plenty of liquids for workers to stay hydrated.
  5. Before the burn checklist: This checklist includes sensitive areas of the property, such as phone junction boxes, bordering fences that contain livestock, nearby homes, cabins, barns, any brush piles in the area, firebreak status, workers and their duties and the observed weather condidtions before starting the burn. Run through this checklist thoroughly before beginning to burn. 

Consider hiring professionals the first time you conduct a controlled burn. They can help you avoid rookie mistakes, and you'll likely learn a lot. 

A typical controlled burn is a relatively cheap method to provide many benefits to wildlife. Conducting a prescribed burn every three years is a common schedule. 

Get started with a safe, controlled burn this season, and your land and wildlife will reap the benefits. 

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