What is Prescribed Fire?
Prescribed fire or prescribed burning is strategically planned, carefully managed, low-intensity fire used to accomplish a forest management goal or multiple goals. For CAW, our goal for using prescribed fires is to protect water quality and improve forest health.
Central Arkansas Water periodically conducts prescribed burns around Lake Maumelle and Lake Winona in order to improve the health of the watersheds and improve the quality of your drinking water. Prescribed fire is used to enhance, maintain, and restore forest communities and the plants and animals that are associated with them, while also improving public safety and increasing recreational opportunities. Nearly 225,000 acres across Arkansas are managed with prescribed burns each year.
Prescribed fires improve water quality filtration.
By controlling certain types of vegetation, a prescribed burn can allow more sunlight to reach the forest floor and can also reduce competition for water and nutrients by invasive species. These changes promote an abundant and diverse grassy understory and more resilient vegetation; in part because burning stimulates growth of seeds in the soil that are often dormant and buried beneath leaves and debris. The robust root complexes and new vegetation growth help slow and absorb runoff, turning the forest into a first-line of defense water filter for pollutants that could enter the lake through runoff from rain events.
Prescribed fires reduce wildfire risks.
Much of CAW’s forestland has not been managed in over 50 years, resulting in dense and overcrowded forests. These conditions result in an abundance of leaf litter, downed woody debris, and the potential for diseased/damaged vegetation that burn easily and at high intensity. Heavy fuel loads can be responsible for intense fires that move into adjacent forests and cause serious damage to standing timber or buildings. Completion of prescribed burns removes heavy fuel loads and, at the same time, provides an opportunity to install firebreaks that will aid in wildfire containment and response should a wildfire occur.
Stay up to date and get involved.
Because prescribed burns require specific weather conditions in order to be completed safely and effectively, an exact date for a prescribed burn cannot be provided until about 24 hours in advance. When conditions are met for a prescribed burn and CAW plans to proceed, CAW posts prescribed burn notices on our website, Facebook and Twitter pages. Want to stay current on the latest news and get involved? Sign up for email notices and get informed on the day each prescribed burn is scheduled to begin.