Apr 25, 2023
GREENVILLE, SC - April 25, 2023 - Each year, Greenville Water participates in prescribed burns as a measure to protect the forests, water sources, and nearby communities. What may come as a surprise to some in our community and beyond, is that our forests are fire dependent.
"What is prescribed burning?"
Like rain, fire is a naturally occurring element that provides many benefits as well as detriments.
Prescribed or controlled burning is the practice of applying fire to forest, brush, or vegetation with careful planning and consideration, confined within a predetermined area.
"How is a prescribed fire different from a wildfire?"
Wildfire is a flame that is difficult to control, especially under hot, dry, and windy conditions, and can occur anytime, costing a great deal of money and potentially risking lives.
Detailed planning and careful consideration is given to many factors in organizing a prescribed burn, including the weather and wind, to ensure that the fire practitioners and nearby communities are safe and protected before any prescribed burns take place.
"How does burning reduce the risk of wildfire?"
Wildfires require a fuel source to start and grow, such as dead leaves, logs, and other debris that accumulate on the forest floor. Periodic controlled burning clears up the buildup of thick brush and undergrowth, creates a natural balance in landscapes which improves the health of natural habitats, and can improve the conditions of communities and watersheds by clearing away dead forestry and other debris. Prescribed fires are beneficial for forest ecology and restoration, and are used to maintain various vegetation communities.
Prescribed burning also interrupts the continuity of the fuel layer. As underbrush grows taller over time, a vertical fuel structure is developed, which can lead to surface wildfires climbing the fuel ladder and becoming disastrous crown fires.
By reducing fire fuel and increasing the time it takes to re-accumulate on the forest floor, professionals lower the risk and severity of wildfires and protect habitats for wildlife, while rendering an area temporarily fire-resistant.
"Why is Greenville Water involved?"
Prescribed burning is beneficial for forestry, from the vegetation to the wildlife, and water is no exception! In order to protect our water quality, the environment around our water sources needs to be kept clear by disposing of the potential fire fuel such as dry leaves and logs. If a wildfire breaks out near a valuable water resource, the debris could affect the quality of your drinking water.
Our watershed maintenance and protection team members have been trained by the Nature Conservancy and South Carolina Forestry Commission to effectively and safely create prescribed fires around the watersheds to clear the debris and maintain water clarity and quality.
For more information about prescribed burns, visit these sites:
Celebrating 30 Years of Protecting Our WatershedsRead Article
Prescribed Burn MonthRead Article
Fire Hydrant Unauthorized UsageRead Article
Jeff Boss Named Greenville Water’s Interim Chief Executive OfficerRead Article