Prescribed Fire

Longleaf pine forests are adapted to fire. Prescribed burning in longleaf stands, provides a variety of benefits including:

  • reduces competition from less desirable plants (especially hardwoods and invasive species)
  • enhances control of forest pests & diseases
  • promotes native understory diversity
  • improves habitat for wildlife
  • reduces fuel build up

Many of the plants and animals living in the Chattahoochee Fall Line region are “fire dependent” and require regular burning in order to thrive.  Historically, fire was common in our area and was often ignited naturally by lightning strikes. It was also intentionally set by Native Americans and settlers who understood the benefits of fire. But, in the last century the emphasis has been on the suppression of all fire. In the absence of periodic burning, fire dependent trees such as the longleaf pine along with animals like the gopher tortoise that live in the longleaf forest have declined.  In addition, dangerous amounts of fuel have built up in many forested areas, increasing the risk of hard-to-control wildfires. Today, prescribed fires — carefully planned and implemented under precise conditions by trained individuals – are an important land management tool used to improve forest health and accomplish ecological restoration across our region.

If you are considering using prescribed fire on your land, there are resources available to help answer your questions about prescribed burning, opportunities to get burn training and personnel to assist you with burning.

Please refer to the Landowner Resources section of this website for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions About Prescribed Fire


What does a prescribed fire look like? 

Do I need a permit to burn?

Yes, all prescribed burns require a burn permit prior to ignition.

Burn permits also called burn authorizations can be obtained from:


Georgia Forestry Commission

1-800-GA-TREES (428-7337)

Permits can also be secured online at:


Alabama Forestry Commission

Burn Permits in Alabama:


Can I hire someone to burn for me or must I do it myself?

You can hire trained personnel to execute prescribed fire on your land. Or, with proper training implement the burning yourself. Your State’s Forestry Commission staff as well as a limited number of trained independent contractors are available for hire to complete prescribed burning for you.


What time of year and how often do I need to burn?

The answer to this question is specific to each property and the landowner’s objectives for the property. Prior to implementing a prescribed fire program, it is desirable for landowners to consult with a trained forestry professional to develop a comprehensive management plan for their property which would address this question.

(All photographs: LCraighton©TNC)

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