Prescribed burning is one of the most efficient and cost effective tools available to foresters in the Southeast for understory management, fuel reduction, site preparation and wildlife habitat improvement. It is relied upon and utilized heavily throughout the southern Pine Belt.
For all of its positive and beneficial effects, burning also has a potential negative effect associated with it — smoke. Burning cannot be done without producing some level of smoke. This smoke will impact the area downwind of the burn site or down drainage in the absence of wind. The degree of this impact depends on how much consideration the burner has given to potential problems and any mitigation.
In Mississippi, tens of thousands of acres are planted in pine each year. This acreage, along with the acres previously planted and natural stands, adds up to an enormous amount of acreage that could be burned each year. In meeting this need, burners must consider the impact of smoke and take steps to manage its impact as much as possible. To do less would open the door for possible regulations severely restricting prescribed burning or banning it completely. These possibilities cannot be taken lightly. Bans and restrictions on prescribed burning have been considered by the legislatures of other states. Being able to burn as much as is needed is important. Being able to burn at all is more important..
To download the entire Voluntary Smoke Management Guidelines, click here.