Prescribed Burning Liability Insurance Now Available

The Oklahoma Prescribed Burn Association (OPBA) recently reached one of their long-term objectives: making prescribed burning liability insurance available to Oklahoma landowners. The Bramlett Agency of Ardmore, Oklahoma, now offers liability insurance for the protection of landowners and lessees who have a burn plan prepared. This coverage, which is affordable and can be used in any state, allows landowners and lessees to conduct a burn on their property.

“The liability insurance is a positive step forward for landowners and prescribed fire,” says John Weir, a research associate in Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Oklahoma State University and OPBA board member. “It does not replace planning, training and equipment, but does give many people a greater level of comfort knowing they do have insurance.”

Prescribed fire is an effective, cost efficient tool that can restore our prairies to an almost natural state in terms of both plants and animals, including the bird species that rely on these grasslands. But without liability protection, a prescribed bum could be very costly for the landowner conducting the bum, which is why OPBA has led the effort to develop a prescribed fire insurance policy.

OPBA also makes strides in the planning, training and equipment Weir mentioned. In 2014, it formed two new local prescribed burn associations within Oklahoma, developed 12 burn plans for individuals wanting to conduct a prescribed burn and burned over 2,600 acres during drought conditions in western Oklahoma. OPBA also conducted five burn workshops and purchased five prescribed burn trailers, three of which were equipped and distributed to local prescribed burn associations. In addition, the OPBA leadership continues to work on modifying language in Oklahoma’s County Commissioner burn ban regulation to allow landowners with written burn plans to conduct prescribed fires.

PLJV supports the efforts of prescribed burn associations and has provided a Capacity Grant to OPBA for the last two years to help increase their ongoing ability to deliver grassland bird habitat conservation through several mechanisms: hiring additional staff; organizing, assessing and training local burn associations; educating the public and the state legislature about prescribed fire; and developing a liability insurance program to protect private landowners.

Posted: February 19, 2015