Current Status Introducing Body:
HouseBill Number: 4422Primary Sponsor: RhoadCommittee Number: 20Type of Legislation: GBSubject: Prescribed Fire ActResiding Body: HouseCurrent Committee: Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environmental AffairsComputer Document Number: NO5/7538BDW.94Introduced Date: 19940111Last History Body: HouseLast History Date: 19940111Last History Type: Introduced, read first time, referred to CommitteeScope of Legislation: StatewideAll Sponsors: RhoadType of Legislation: General Bill
Bill Body Date Action Description CMN Leg Involved ____ ______ ____________ ______________________________ ___ ____________ 4422 House 19940111 Introduced, read first time, 20 referred to CommitteeView additional legislative information at the LPITS web site.
TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING CHAPTER 34 TO TITLE 48 SO AS TO AUTHORIZE PRESCRIBED FIRES TO BE CONDUCTED UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS, DEFINE TERMS, PROVIDE FOR PROMULGATION OF REGULATIONS, LIMIT RELATED LIABILITY, AND PROVIDE FOR PRESCRIBED FIRES CONDUCTED WITHOUT A PRESCRIBED FIRE MANAGER.
Whereas, the application of prescribed fire is a land management tool that benefits the safety of the public, the environment, and the economy of South Carolina; and
Whereas, the General Assembly finds that:
(1) Prescribed fire reduces the vegetative fuel buildup on forest, brush, and grasslands. Reduction of the fuel lessens the risk and severity of major catastrophic wildfire and reduces the threat of loss of life and property, particularly in urbanizing areas.
(2) Many of South Carolina's natural plant and animal communities require periodic fire for maintenance of their ecological integrity. Prescribed fire is essential to the perpetuation, management, and restoration of these communities. Significant loss of the state's biological diversity will occur if fire is excluded from fire-dependent systems.
(3) Forestlands constitute significant economic, biological, and aesthetic resources of statewide importance. Prescribed fire on forestland prepares sites for reforestation, removes undesirable competing vegetation, expedites nutrient cycling, and controls or eliminates certain forest pathogens.
(4) The State manages thousands of acres of land for parks, wildlife habitat, forests, and other public purposes. The use of prescribed fire for management of public lands is essential to maintain the specific resource value for which these lands were acquired.
(5) Proper training in the use of prescribed fire is necessary to ensure maximum benefits and protection for the public.
(6) As South Carolina's population continues to grow, pressures from liability issues and nuisance complaints inhibit the use of prescribed fire.
(7) A public education program is necessary to make citizens and visitors aware of the public safety, environmental, and economic benefits of prescribed fire; and
Whereas, it is the purpose of this act to authorize and promote the continued use of prescribed fire for ecological, silvicultural, agricultural, and wildlife management purposes. Now, therefore,
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Title 48 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
Section 48-34-10. This chapter is known as the `South Carolina Prescribed Fire Act'.
Section 48-34-20. As used in this chapter:
(1) `Prescribed fire' means a controlled fire applied to forest, brush, or grassland vegetative fuels under specified environmental conditions and precautions which cause the fire to be confined to a predetermined area and allow accomplishment of the planned land management objectives. It also is known as `controlled burn'.
(2) `Certified prescribed fire manager' means an individual who successfully completes a certification program approved by the State Commission of Forestry.
(3) `Prescribed fire plan' means a written prescription for starting and controlling a prescribed fire.
Section 48-34-30. The State Commission of Forestry shall promulgate regulations for the use of prescribed fire and for the certification of prescribed fire managers.
Section 48-34-40. Prescribed fires conducted pursuant to this chapter:
(1) must have a prescribed fire plan prepared before authorization to burn is given by the State Commission of Forestry, and the plan must be on site and followed during the burn;
(2) must have at least one certified prescribed fire manager present and supervising the burn from ignition until it is declared safe according to certification guidelines;
(3) are considered in the public interest and do not constitute a public or private nuisance when conducted pursuant to state air pollution statutes, smoke management guidelines, and regulations applicable to the use of prescribed fire;
(4) are considered a property right of the property owner.
Section 48-34-50. No property owner or lessee or his agent or employee conducting a prescribed fire pursuant to this chapter is liable for damage, injury, or loss caused by fire, resulting smoke, or other consequences of the prescribed fire unless negligence is proven.
Section 48-34-60. A person may conduct a prescribed fire without a certified prescribed fire manager present. However, that person is not afforded the protection provided in this chapter."
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.