Fire & Aviation Management
Eighty-nine percent of the 212 million acres of forestland in the South is privately owned. It is the responsibility of state forestry agencies to suppress all wildland fires occurring on these lands.
Fires occur year-round in the South with increased intensity in the spring and fall. Because of the population density in the South, "human caused" fires are the leading cause of wildfires, averaging 100 fires daily.
Annually, the South experiences more wildfires than any other region in the nation. According to the 2005 publication, Fire in the South, over fifty-one percent of the fires in the past few years occurred in the South. Very few fires become catastrophic because of top notch prevention and suppression programs.
The South's extensive network of roads, dense forests and population has led to the development of homes and other structures throughout much of the forested areas. Many of these homes and valuable forests are at risk to wildfires.
Most people are familiar with the idea that a doctor prescribes a certain medicine to keep a patient healthy. In forest management, professional foresters prescribe fires to keep a forest healthy and free from disease.
Each year, professional foresters treat millions of acres of forests. This tool removes underbrush, and dead and diseased trees from the forest floor, which drastically reduces the chance of personal property or lives being lost. Most of these supervised fires are conducted every two to three years from mid-October to mid-March because of the vegetation types and long growing season.
The 12,000 Rural Volunteer Fire Departments provide needed assistance to state forestry agencies by protecting homes and structures in the Wildland Urban Interface. They arrive quickly and suppress most fires when they are less than an acre in size.
State forestry agencies use funds from State Fire Assistance,
Volunteer Fire Assistance, Community and Private Land Fire Assistance
and Forest Stewardship programs.