Prescribed Burning

Smoke Management and Prescribed Burning Brochure

Prescribed burning is a vital ecological tool for forest management. We strongly support the use of prescribed burning in the appropriate situation and work with land managers to avert smoke impacts on the public. 

Prescribed burning is the planned application and confinement of fire to wildland fuels on lands selected in advance of that application to achieve any of the following objectives: prevention of high-intensity wildland fires through the reduction of the volume of continuity of wildlands fuels, watershed management; range improvement, vegetation management, forest improvement and/or forest management, wildlife habitat improvement and air quality maintenance. 

This includes the use of prescribed fire in forest management, range improvement, improvement of land for wildlife and game habitat or disease or pest prevention, or the use of open outdoor fires used in the operation or the maintenance of a system for the delivery of water and wildland vegetation management burning. Click here for Rule 303 - Prescribed Burning Smoke Management.

Mount Howell Underburn

The District Smoke Management Program (PDF) was adopted by the Board in December of 2001 in order to allow for the continuation of agricultural and prescribed burning as a resource management tool and provide increased opportunities for agricultural and prescribed burning while at the same time minimizing smoke impacts to the public. This program is intended to help minimize smoke impacts on air quality and the public through planning, use of automated weather stations to provide meteorological data to predict smoke transport and dispersion, and the use of fuel load reduction prior to burning.

The District’s program is based on the regulations and requirements from the California Health and Safety Code and the California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 17 , Division 3 Air Resources, Chapter 1 Air Resources Board, Subchapter 2 Smoke Management Guidelines for Agricultural and Prescribed Burning.

The California Health and Safety Code additionally provides a legislative and governor signed adopted definition on Prescribed Burning within the definition of Agricultural Burning. This definition includes the use of Prescribed Burning for an objective of “air quality maintenance.” Air quality maintenance was not specifically defined within the legislation thus the District staff have written a white paper that provides the District's interpretation on the definition on "air quality maintenance"  based on extensive legislative research on the definition.