Code Section Group

Public Resources Code - PRC


  ( Division 4 repealed and added by Stats. 1965, Ch. 1144. )


  ( Part 2 added by Stats. 1965, Ch. 1144. )

CHAPTER 7. Burning of Lands [4461 - 4497.2]

  ( Chapter 7 added by Stats. 1965, Ch. 1144. )

ARTICLE 1. Experimental Program for Wildland Fire Protection and Resources Management [4461 - 4471]
  ( Article 1 added by Stats. 1978, Ch. 1118. )


This article shall be known and may be cited as the Wildland Fire Protection and Resources Management Act of 1978.

(Added by Stats. 1978, Ch. 1118.)


The Legislature hereby finds and declares as follows:

(a) There has been an increase in the number of uncontrolled fires on the wildlands of this state, resulting in destruction of valuable timber and other vegetation, loss of recreational opportunities and wildlife habitat, erosion and damage to streamflow and watersheds, extremely adverse effects on water quality through sedimentation, destruction of soil and loss of nutrients, degradation of air quality, invasions into burned areas of less desirable plant species, and an unacceptable level of hazards to public safety. Further, the increased cost of fire suppression implies the need for alternative methods of fire prevention.

(b) The prevention of high-intensity wildland fires may be achieved partly through the reduction of the volume and continuity of flammable vegetation in wildlands by a program of fuel management.

(c) Wildland resources management planning and the provision of prescribed burn crews pursuant to this article serves a public purpose and will benefit all the citizens of the state.

(Amended by Stats. 1980, Ch. 525, Sec. 3. Operative July 1, 1981, by Sec. 13 of Ch. 525.)


Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the following definitions govern the construction of this chapter:

(a) “Hazardous fuel reduction” means the application of practices to wild lands, the primary impact of which to the vegetation is generally limited to the reduction of surface and ladder wild land fuels. These practices include, but are not limited to, prescribed fire, piling by machine or by hand in preparation for burning, thinning, pruning, or grazing. Treatments that reduce crown densities shall be prescribed only for the purpose of impacting fire behavior, and if it can be reasonably concluded, based on the proposed treatment, that the likelihood for the formation of crown fires is reduced.

(b) “Nonprofit organization” means any California corporation organized under Section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) of the federal Internal Revenue Code.

(c) “Person” means any natural person, firm, association, partnership, business trust, corporation, limited liability company, company, nonprofit organization, or a combination of those, or any public agency other than an agency of the federal government.

(d) “Prescribed burn crew” means personnel and firefighting equipment of the department that are prepared to contain fire set in a prescribed burning operation and to suppress any fire that escapes during a prescribed burning operation.

(e) “Prescribed burning” or “prescribed burning operation” means the planned application and confinement of fire to wild land fuels on lands selected in advance of that application to achieve any of the following objectives:

(1) Prevention of high-intensity wild land fires through reduction of the volume and continuity of wild land fuels.

(2) Watershed management.

(3) Range improvement.

(4) Vegetation management.

(5) Forest improvement.

(6) Wildlife habitat improvement.

(7) Air quality maintenance.

(f) “Wild land” means any land that is classified as a state responsibility area pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 4125) of Chapter 1 and includes any land having a flammable plant cover. “Wild land” also means any land not classified as a state responsibility area where the geographic location of these lands and accumulation of wild land fuel is such that a wild land fire occurring on these lands would pose a threat to a state responsibility area.

(g) “Wild land fire” means any uncontrolled fire burning on wild land.

(h) “Wild land fuel” means any timber, brush, grass, or other flammable vegetation, living or dead, standing or down.

(Amended by Stats. 2009, 4th Ex. Sess., Ch. 11, Sec. 4. Effective July 28, 2009.)


The Legislature finds that, due to the absence of significant forest resources, lands in the Sutter Buttes in the County of Sutter are not likely to become eligible for classification as a state responsibility area under existing statutory criteria, but that those lands possess all other characteristics set forth in Section 4475, and substantial public benefits can be derived from prescribed burning operations on those lands. Accordingly, notwithstanding subdivision (a) of Section 4464, lands in the Sutter Buttes that have substantial accumulations of wildland fuel, the burning of which in a prescribed burning operation will achieve a combination of the purposes set forth in Section 4475, other than forest improvement, shall be deemed “wildland” for the purposes of Article 2 (commencing with Section 4475).

(Added by Stats. 1982, Ch. 987, Sec. 2. Effective September 13, 1982.)


The department shall conduct an experimental program of wildland resources management through prescribed burning and other methods in two areas of wildlands.

(Added by Stats. 1978, Ch. 1118.)


(a) The department shall prepare two model plans for the initial development and implementation of a program for wildland resources management through prescribed burning and other methods, one of which is appropriate for an area of wildlands in northern California, and one, in southern California. All state agencies, including the Departments of Fish and Game and Conservation and the State Water Resources Control Board, shall cooperate with the department in the creation of the plans, to the end that administrative and environmental considerations are carefully and effectively considered and included in the program.

(b) Upon completion of each plan, the director shall submit the plan to the board for its review and approval as to its conformity with the requirements set forth in Section 4467.

(c) The department shall apply for funding from nonstate sources for the purpose of carrying out its planning responsibilities pursuant to this article. The department may not commence such planning until such funding is available in an amount sufficient to meet the costs of one model plan.

(d) Neither plan may be implemented or used after January 1, 1983.

(Added by Stats. 1978, Ch. 1118.)


(a) Each plan shall include, but shall not be limited to, elements regarding wildland fuel management and reduction, air and water quality, water conservation and watershed improvement, soil conservation, wildlife habitat improvement and protection, range and forage improvement, and timberland improvement and protection.

(b) The plan shall be prepared in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (commencing with Section 21000) and, when approved, shall constitute the environmental impact report for the implementation of the plan for each area of wildlands designated by the board.

(c) The department shall coordinate the development of each plan with the general plan of each county in which the experimental program is conducted and shall, to the maximum extent feasible, conform the plan to the land-use plans and objectives of state and local government.

(d) Copies of each plan shall be made available to each county, resource conservation district, and person owning land in the area in which the experimental program is conducted.

(Added by Stats. 1978, Ch. 1118.)


During the prescribed burning season, the department shall maintain at least two prescribed burn crews, one each in northern and southern California, for the purpose of providing prescribed burn back-up in the event of an emergency during prescribed burning operations. The department shall prepare a schedule for each prescribed burning season so that the crews will be available to all persons or groups of persons participating in the program during that season. Crews may also be used for other firefighting operations engaged in by the department when not in use in connection with such prescribed burning operations.

(Added by Stats. 1978, Ch. 1118.)


The department shall furnish a prescribed burn crew, and assume all costs thereof, to any person or group of persons who own or control land in a wildland area for which a plan has been approved pursuant to this article if such a person or group of persons obtains a brush-burning permit and agrees as a condition of issuance of the permit to comply with the plan in all aspects and to comply with the requirements of Article 3 (commencing with Section 4491) of this chapter, including the assumption of all liability for damage to the property of others.

(Added by Stats. 1978, Ch. 1118.)


No person applying for a brush-burning permit pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 4491) of this chapter, applying for a slash-burning permit pursuant to Section 4423, or conducting timber operations pursuant to the Z'berg-Nejedly Forest Practice Act of 1973 (commencing with Section 4511) shall be required to comply with the provisions of this article as a condition to the issuance of a permit or other entitlement pursuant to such provisions.

(Added by Stats. 1978, Ch. 1118.)

PRCPublic Resources Code - PRC1.