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Prescribed Fire

Prescribed Fire

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. 

Fire as a Tool

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).

Burning by the Day - Why cost per acre is not a good metric for prescribed fire      


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.

Napa County PBA

Napa County PBA is in the very early stages of formation (Summer 2023).  They will be hosting informational webinars, trainings and community events starting in the Fall of 2023, with the hope of burning once the rains come.  For more information on the Napa County PBA or to join, contact Tori Norville at trnorville@ucanr.edu.

Permits and Regulation

Whether you are conducting a prescribed burn or just pile burning, you are required to have a few permits.  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


Additional Resources

Prescribed Fire Information Reporting System - Website for reporting your prescribed burn.  Remember to submit your Smoke Management Plan here too.

Smoke Management Plan Templates