A landowner (center) reviews his burn plan with Russell Stevens (left) and Leslie Kutz (right). A written burn plan is required to obtain prescribed burn insurance.
A landowner (center) reviews his burn plan with Russell Stevens (left) and Leslie Kutz (right). A written burn plan is required to obtain prescribed burn insurance.

Prescribed fire is one of the most powerful and important land management practices available to agricultural producers and land stewards, according to The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.

Prescribed fire helps rejuvenate native plant communities that positively impact wildlife habitat and livestock forages in various parts of the country. However, liability is always a concern for landowners using or considering the use of prescribed fire. Liability is one of the main reasons prescribed fire is not commonly used in land management.

Knowing that prescribed fire is as important to most agricultural operations as grazing, rain and sunshine, the Oklahoma Prescribed Burn Association (OPBA), in conjunction with The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and The Bramlett Agency have come together to provide a solution for landowners.

For the first time, Oklahoma landowners can purchase prescribed burn insurance to protect themselves or lessees implementing prescribed fire against claims for any damage on someone else’s property. “The development of the prescribed fire insurance was need-driven for landowners and producers to be able to manage their land properly,” said Russell Stevens, Noble Foundation wildlife and range consultant and executive director of the OPBA. “We are working toward making this insurance available to other states as well.”

In order for the insurance policy to be issued and take effect, landowners in Oklahoma must:

  • Follow all federal, state and local statutes and ordinances.
  • Adhere to the requirements in “Notification Requirements and Considerations for Safe and Lawful Prescribed Burning in Oklahoma: Guidelines, State Law and the Burning Notification Plan,” available through the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Forestry Services.

A written prescribed burn plan is also required, and a template can be obtained from the Noble Foundation or OPBA (www.ok-pba.org). The insurance will only cover the burn detailed in the plan, and each burn crew member must be listed in the burn plan to be covered.

“These procedures may sound daunting to some at first,” Stevens said. “However, they do not require an excessive amount of time and are necessary to the successful and safe application of prescribed fire. This is a simple step to add to the process.”

For more information about prescribed fire and developing a burn plan, contact the Noble Foundation at 580.223.5810 or visit www.noble.org/fire.