Most of the world’s grasslands evolved with fire, whether ignited by lightning or people. For millennia, flames burned regularly though small patches and vast stretches of prairie landscapes, restoring and sustaining an enormous variety of native grassland plants.
Prescribed fire liability standards vary from state to state and legal terms can sometimes be confusing. This fact sheet describes the different standards of care applied in prescribed burning‐related lawsuits.
Resistance to the use of prescribed fire is strong among many private land managers despite the advantages it offers for maintaining fire-prone ecosystems. Often, managers who are aware of the benefits of using prescribed fire as a management tool avoid using it because of fear of liability for damages that may result from an escaped fire or smoke.
The ecological value of shortgrass prairies in North America has become increasingly evident as populations of prairie dog (Cynomys spp.) and burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) begin to decline.