New South Carolina law reduces legal liabilities for smoke damage, injury from controlled forest fires
More smoke now for less wildfire danger and smoke later. Thatís the trade-off of a new state law that eases lawsuit concerns for forestland managers who do prescribed burns.
Forests and fields in S.C. managed with burns: 12.3 million acres.
Acres burned per year on average: 500,000-600,000.
Acres per year that should be burned for good management: 1 million.
source: South Carolina Forestry Commission.
Itís a prickly compromise for the Lowcountry, where thousands of acres of forest lie in close proximity to populated areas and dozens of burns can take place on the same day. Smoke can hang in the air, spurring nuisance complaints and breathing difficulties, occasionally cutting down visibility on roads.
The law revision passed earlier this month changes the burden of proof for a lawsuit alleging damage or injury from prescribed burn smoke. The plaintiff now must prove gross negligence or recklessness. Formerly, the proof burden was simply negligence.
The new law is expected to mean a small increase in the number of burns, said Darryl Jones, commission fire chief.
Read more in Thursdayís Post and Courier.