Southeast Prescribed Fire Initiative
Fire is a critically important agent of renewal in natural ecosystems. However, wildfires can pose a substantial risk to people and infrastructure, and the Southeast has more wildfires than any other region. This region also includes several fire-dependent ecosystems where prescribed burning is necessary to safely manage the land and resources. By promoting prescribed fire as a land management tool, SERPPAS partners minimize the risk of destructive wildfires while restoring critical habitat and species in the Southeast.
Working with fire experts from around the region, the SERPPAS Prescribed Fire Work Group developed a Comprehensive Prescribed Fire Strategy that guides their work. This strategy describes regional, state, and local activities needed to progress toward the strategic goals. Managing land properly with prescribed fire helps restore ecosystems, reduces the risk of catastrophic wildfire, protects air quality, and improves wildlife habitat for game, at-risk, threatened, and endangered species.
Military testing and training in the Southeast are critically linked to prescribed burning, as installations use this management practice for fuels reduction and to manage critical habitat. Increasing prescribed fire as a management tool on and off base can enhance military readiness by increasing flexibility under the Endangered Species Act by expanding and sustaining key habitats off-installation; reducing fuels to increase resiliency and create natural buffers to DoD facilities, infrastructure and assets; and decreasing liability claims and fire costs from surrounding communities.
- Identify, encourage, and support efforts to quantify and prioritize the use of prescribed fire to achieve desired conditions considering the missions and objectives of SERPPAS.
- Identify needs and opportunities to provide funding, capacity and other support to achieve desired conditions in SERPPAS priority areas, as needed.
- Encourage and share successful models of burn teams and/or Prescribed Burn Associations that plan, prioritize, and conduct prescribed burns and associated fuels reduction work within Sentinel Landscapes and other SERPPAS priority areas.
- Share successful models of shared stewardship and interagency cooperation to increase burning across boundaries, and to share personnel, equipment, and resources on fires within SERPPAS priority areas.
- Increase engagement with landowners, communities, and contractors by supporting workshops, field days, and other programs that provide prescribed burning experience, training, and education within SERPPAS priority areas.
- Encourage and support the development, dissemination, and utilization of new relevant fire science and tools that foster collaboration among scientists and natural resource managers, and that address the information needs of SERPPAS, regional fire managers, and partners.
- Promote cooperative conservation, protection of public health, and keeping areas in attainment with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) by encouraging use of basic and enhanced smoke management practices.
- Support efforts that identify and seek to overcome gaps in knowledge, training, and information needs relevant to SERPPAS prescribed fire managers, policy makers, and partners. Topics include but are not limited to:
- Climate Change and Carbon
- Resilience and Sustainability
- Smoke and Air Quality
- Water quality and quantity
- Fire Effects and Ecosystem Management
- Societal Impacts (including social justice, diversity, and inclusion)
Work Group Lead
Jennifer FawcettExtension Associate, Forestry & Environmental Resources
North Carolina State University
Jennifer Fawcett is an Extension Associate in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, Extension Forestry at North Carolina State University (NCSU). She coordinates the Southeast Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability (SERPPAS) Prescribed Fire Work Group and assists in implementing actions within the SERPPAS “Comprehensive Strategy for Prescribed Fire.” Prior to her current role, Jenn provided data collection and management for a Department of Defense Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program longleaf pine restoration research project with the U.S. Forest Service. She received her B.S. degree in Animal Science from the University of Delaware, M.S. degree in Forest Resources from Clemson University, and is working towards her Ed.D. in Agricultural and Extension Education at NCSU. Jenn currently serves as an Advisory Board member for the Southern Fire Exchange and is a past President for the North Carolina Prescribed Fire Council.