Prescribed fire, sometimes called a "controlled burn" or "prescribed burn" is a fire intentionally lit and used to meet specific management objectives such as wildfire hazard reduction, ecosystem restoration, vegetation management, and wildlife habitat enhancement; it is also and important cultural resource.
The ecology of California's ecosystems are driven by disturbances such as insects, diseases, wind, and fire. Prescribed fire is a way to introduce a disturbance back into the ecosystem in a more controlled manner. The last few years, driven in large part by the efforts of UCCE Fire Advisors in Humboldt County, a new collaborative model of conducting safe prescribed fire has been introduce to California, the Prescribed Burn Association (PBA).
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What is a Prescribed burn Association (PBA)
A PBA is a collaborative community-based organization consisting of landowners, land managers, community members, non-profit organizations, and fire professionals. Members of the PBA pool their resources and energy to help private landowners use safe prescribed fire on their lands.
To learn more about the efforts to build PBAs across California, check out calpba.org
Local Prescribed Burn Associations
Good Fire Alliance (GFA, Sonoma and Marin County PBA)
Guided by the efforts of UCCE Sonoma and Audubon Canyon Ranch, Fire Forward Program, and a large and engaged community, GFA has been active since 2019. To learn more about the GFA, check out their Facebook Page or their website.
To learn more about locally based PBAs, or you are in Napa County and interested in PBAs, contact Tori Norville at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-565-3443.
Interested in having a prescribed burn on your property? Contact one of the following:
Audubon Canyon Ranch, Fire Forward: They will conduct a site visit, help obtain all the necessary permits (CEQA, smoke management plan, burn permits, etc.) and will provide a work force to do the prescribed burn. Fire Forward works closely with the Good Fire Alliance.
Prefer to do it yourself with your community? Contact Tori Norville at email@example.com for a site visit, and for advice on the necessary permits, or if you need a larger work force.
Liability and Prescribed Fire in California
For an excellent summary of Liability and Prescribed Fire in California, check out the UCCE Humboldt-Del Norte Fire web page.
These resources are for viewer information only and views should seek legal advice for interpretation of laws prior to prescribed fire planning or ignition.
Permits and Regulation
Each county requires burn permits from CALFIRE and the Air Quality Management district depending on season.
Counties may have slightly different regulatory processes or permitting structures; therefore it is imperative you check with regulators in each county to make sure you are in compliance with their regulations.
CALFIRE Burn Permit
During certain times of the year, burning of vegetation is allowed. Burn permits may be required. During the dry months, CALFIRE will suspend burning altogether.
Always check with your local fire station or CALFIRE station, as well as local air quality management agency before burning.
Sonoma, Napa, and Marin Counties Air Quality Districts
Northern Sonoma County Air Pollution Control District (NSCAPCD): Covers the northern and coastal regions of Sonoma County including Annapolis, Bodega, Bodega Bay, Camp Meeker, Cazadero, Cloverdale, Duncan Mills, Forestville, Geyserville, Gualala, Guerneville, Healdsburg, Jenner, Monte Rio, Rio Nido, and the Sea Ranch. NSCAPCD also includes small portions of the following four towns: Windsor, Sebastopol, Occidental and Valley Ford as well as the part of Calistoga within Sonoma County.
Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD): extends throughout the southern portion of Sonoma County including Blookmfield, Cotati, Glen Ellen, Graton, Kenwood, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa and Sonoma. BAAQMD also includes portions of the following four towns: Windsor, Sebastopol, Occidental, and Valley Ford. All of Napa and Marin are in this district.