What we do

The Council is a mix of natural resource professionals, land managers, and others who support the use of prescribed burning.  Its goals are to bring people together to:

  • Promote public education about the benefits of prescribed fire as a land management tool now and in the future. 

  • Increase expertise in prescribed fire by sharing technical and biological information.

  • Promote safety, training, and research in the art and science of prescribed fire. 

  • Review prescribed fire practices, regulations, and policies and suggest improvements.

  • Promote best management practices that minimize water, smoke, and air quality impacts from prescribed fires. 


Steering Committee Members

Council Chair: Justin Barnes, Virginia Department of Forestry

Council Vice-Chair: Adam Coates, Ph.D., Virginia Tech
Secretary: Lindsey Curtin, US Forest Service



            Fred X. Turck, Virginia Department of Forestry
              Claiborne Woodall, Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation
              Chad Stover, Virginia Department of Forestry
              Forrest Atwood, Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation
              Claiborne Woodall, Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation
              Dave Robinson, National Park Service
              Steve Living, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
              Mike Dye, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
              Dave Byrd, US Fish & Wildlife Service
              Justin Gabler, US Forest Service
              Blair Smyth, The Nature Conservancy

              John Hurt, Private Landowner
              Mike Collins, Fire Contractor

Steering Committee Partner Agencies
Click on a logo to open an agency's website!

Virginia Department of Forestry

The use of prescribed fire as a resource management tool has long been regarded as indispensable.
Historically Smokey Bear and his fire prevention message has created a misconception that all fire is bad. Various southern ecosystems depend on fire as do many silvicultural recommendations. Fire can be both good and bad depending on when, where, and how it occurs. With proper training and planning, prescribed burn managers will know the when, where, and the how to use fire to benefit the resources. How well we manage smoke from prescribed fires will determine our future use of this valuable and indispensable resource management tool.


The general public has a great influence over how we manage the resources of the forest. Some forest regulations are based on public emotion instead of scientific facts. Public relations are an essential part of a prescribed burn. The prescribed fire manager should feel obligated to minimize effects on the nearby residents and be prepared to “sell” his or her job to the general public.


“Image has everything to do with how we are perceived and may have little to do with what we actually are.”


Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation


The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) recognizes that prescribed fire is a unique, critical, and effective management tool for meeting a broad array of biological and resource management objectives. These include enhancing habitats for rare species of plants and animals, restoring/maintaining fire-dependant natural communities, wildlife management, maintenance of viewsheds, hazardous fuel reduction, and helping to control invasive species. DCR resource managers actively plan and implement prescribed burns on DCR's systems of Natural Area Preserves and State Parks. DCR works with many state, federal, and private partners to maintain professionally-trained crew in order to accomplish prescribed fire projects on DCR and partner-lands throughout Virginia.

US Forest Service

The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests (GWJNFs) span over 1.6 million acres in Virginia.  Prescribed fire is an essential tool used to manage habitat across the vast landscape, and provides many benefits to the ecosystem and public. 


While the GWJNFs are known for their seemingly boundless forests of majestic tall trees, many plant and wildlife species need other habitat types in order to thrive.  Young forests, characterized by few or no mature trees with a diverse mix of shrubs and/or tree seedlings and saplings, are critically important to species such as the loggerhead shrike, smooth green snake, and slender wheatgrass.  These young forests are rapidly disappearing in areas where naturally occurring fires have been eliminated on the landscape.  Prescribed fire is used to create and maintain these young forest habitats.  Additionally, fire plays a crucial role in oak and yellow pine regeneration across mature forests by reducing leaf litter and duff, killing other competitive species (such as red maple), and increasing the amount of sunlight that reaches the forest floor.  A diverse landscape provides forage, cover, and the different habitat types many species need to survive.  


The Forest Service also strives to protect human life and property by reducing the threat of wildfire in the wildland urban interface.  Prescribed fires conducted near human development reduce fuels, manage overgrown and dry vegetation, and minimize the air quality effects a future intense, uncontrolled wildfire may create.  As with wildfire suppression, firefighter and public safety are the number one priority when conducting any prescribed burn.  Fire management experts are extensively trained and have years of experience in protecting communities, themselves, and the land they are working to restore.  



SoilKeepers is a health friendly landscape restoration and maintenance service serving clients since 2014 in the Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Culpeper, and Warrenton, VA region.

Our specialty services include:

  • Cool season turf (grass such as fescue and bluegrass) restoration and maintenance​

  • Native plant garden design, installation, and maintenance

  • Native warm season grass and wildflower meadow installation and maintenance

We serve small and large lot residential clients, and estate and farm landowners.

Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is a strong proponent of the wise use of prescribed fire. We recognize its value in promoting wildlife habitat for many species. Animals such as bobwhite quail, wild turkey, white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, yellow-breasted chat, field sparrow, Eastern towhee, Eastern cottontail rabbit, golden-winged warbler, and many more, benefit from the proper use of fire in habitat management. DGIF staff routinely use prescribed fire to maintain many of the 200,000 plus acres of state lands we manage in great condition for wildlife.


In addition, we recognize that prescribed fire can be used to reduce fuel loads and help prevent catastrophic, un-controlled wildfires. By visiting our website you will find helpful information on managing early-succession habitats with and without fire. The sections “open land habitat management” and “forest land management” both contain information on how prescribed fire can be used to maintain healthy early-succession ecosystems. 

The Virginia Forestry & Wildlife Group (VFWG) is a natural resource consulting firm that offers professional wildlife and forest management services to landowners throughout Virginia.  By integrating these two major elements of land management and applying the founders' individual expertise, experience and knowledge to natural resource conservation and management, VFWG can offer landowners a comprehensive, multiple-use strategy for managing their property.  

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a supporter and user of prescribed fire to restore natural area function. We have recognized the historic significance and contemporary utility of fire as a management tool, and apply prescribed fires to many of our properties across Virginia. Our primary objectives are rare species management or ecosystem restoration and maintenance. We work with our many partners to maintain a professionally trained and equipped fire program, and routinely implement or participate in prescribed fires across the state.

National Park Service

National Park Service policy stresses managing fire, not just suppressing it. This means understanding fire on landscapes over time, planning for fires and using fire as one of many ways to manage public lands. The goals are to protect human life, property and resources while restoring fire’s role as a dynamic, necessary natural process for healthy ecosystems.


Prescribed burning is one way to help achieve those goals. Parks must complete a fire management plan and a burn plan before burning. The day of the ignition, all the conditions identified in a go/no go checklist must also be met. These include proper staffing and the right weather. National parks have used fire to restore or maintain historic scenes, improve habitat and reduce hazard fuels.

US Fish & Wildlife Service

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service manages over 500 national wildlife refuges throughout the United States, including 14 staffed and un-staffed refuges in the state of Virginia. Refuges are located from the coastal plain of southeastern Virginia, to the Eastern Shore, urbanized Northern Virginia, and along the James and Rappahannock Rivers. Prescribed fire plays an important role in these southern ecosystems, and is used regularly on many of the Virginia refuges. The Service focuses on two main objectives for the use of prescribed fire: protecting lives, property and the loss of natural resources by reducing or modifying the fuels which contribute to damaging wildfires, and restoring and maintaining Service lands in desirable condition by use of prescribed burning.

Fire operations for the Service are managed through a Zone Fire Program, based out of Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. The Zone program provides support for prescribed fire and fire suppression operations for all the refuges in Virginia, and in addition to providing support for refuges throughout the zone, also provides robust support to other federal, state and NGO partner agencies in the state through cooperative agreements.The Service recognizes the vital role of prescribed fire in the State, and strongly supports it's wise use across agency boundaries, and in the private sector.