Person conducting safe prescribed burn to forest floor

Prescribed Fire

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Overview Use in Raleigh Parks Partnerships Know Before You Go Resources 


Prescribed fire at Wilkerson with burned ground on left with man supervising on right

Prescribed fire, also known as controlled burning, is the application of fire to an appropriate natural setting in a safe, responsible, and purposeful way.

Controlled burns reintroduce fire disturbance to targeted areas with the goal of restoring the ecological benefits associated with this natural process.

Learn more about the benefits of prescribed fire

Use in Raleigh Parks

Prescribed burn at nature preserve with burning ground and smoke rising with sign on left

In 2017, the Raleigh Parks worked with N.C. Forest Service to successfully implement their first controlled burn at Annie Louise Wilkerson, M.D. Nature Preserve.

Raleigh Parks plans to increase the use of prescribed fire to help manage and improve habitats found in select nature preserves and parks. Raleigh Parks is committed to implementing quality land stewardship practices as we strive to protect and conserve our valuable natural resources.

Green plants growing out of burnt grown

Fire provides ecological benefits for many plants, like this longleaf pine seedling.


Smoke rising from ground with fire person safely monitoring

A member of N.C. Forest Service observes a fire perimeter control line used to contain the burn.

Raleigh Parks will continue to partner with cooperating agencies such as N.C. Forest Service when planning and executing prescribed fire activities. Working with other government agencies and non-government organizations helps to ensure that best management practices are followed and encourages the sharing of information and resources needed to conduct controlled burns.

Many of our partners regularly use prescribed fire to manage the lands for which they are responsible, and their expertise will help guarantee that Raleigh Parks conducts controlled burns in a safe and effective manner.

Raleigh Parks will coordinate prescribed fire plans with the Raleigh Fire Department and Raleigh Police Department.

Know Before You Go

Fire watch walking in front of burning plants on ground and white smoke

Before A Burn

Raleigh Parks will inform the public about upcoming prescribed fire activities in multiple ways:

Underbrush at park being burned by flames

During A Burn

  • Please be aware that fire management staff will be active on site.
  • Some trails and greenways may be temporarily closed. Find more information on Greenway Alerts.
  • Smoke will be concentrated in the areas closest to the burn and will dissipate quickly. Smoke may temporarily create poor air quality conditions that could be challenging for those with asthma or other respiratory issues. It is recommended that visitors keep a safe distance from burn operations.
  • Park staff are aware of the fire and smoke. Please do not contact emergency services to report these issues.
Green grasses and wildflowers growing in a nature preserve

Prescribed fire can encourage the growth of nature grasses and wildflowers.

After A Burn

  • Trails and greenways will reopen quickly.
  • Recently burned sites will appear charred and blackened. But don’t worry, the vegetation will recover quickly and in a healthier condition due to fire management efforts.