Prescribed Burns

Prescribed Burn Overview

Through CAW’s plan to improve water quality and restore our forests, we will complete a number of prescribed burns around Lake Maumelle each year. Prescribed fire will be used to enhance, maintain, and restore natural forest communities and the plants and animals that are associated with them, while also improving public safety and increasing recreational opportunities.


A CAW prescribed burn at Bufflehead Bay. Highway 10 was used as a firebreak for this burn, ensuring the safety of nearby property.

Prescribed burns (also called controlled burns) provide a number of functions to a natural landscape and is used as a management tool. CAW’s primary goals of using fire as a management tool are:

  • the reintroduction of fire as an ecological process
  • the reduction of organic carbon entering the drinking water supply
  • the reduction of hazardous fuels lessening the potential for wildfire
  • overall improvement of forest health and wildlife habitat.

Over 280,000 acres across Arkansas are managed with prescribed burns each year by a variety of public, private, and nonprofit organizations. And approximately 42% of Arkansas’ globally imperiled species need fire for some part of their lifecycle.

For more information, please visit our Prescribed Burn – Frequently Asked Questions page.

For More Information 

For more information on CAW’s prescribed burns or to request day-of notices for specific prescribed burns, please sign up for our Prescribed Burn Updates below.  PLEASE NOTE that you will need to click a confirmation link in an email to complete the signup process.  Alternatively, you may contact Raven Lawson, Watershed Protection Manager, at 501.223.1857.

Recent and Upcoming Prescribed Burn Activities

Friday, November 11, CAW will burn the Alotian Unit:  Click here to view the attached map.

As part of our commitment to keep nearby residents informed of the progress of CAW’s prescribed burns, we have developed a map and eligible time window for each activity planned for 2015.  Residents within a 3 mile radius of a planned burn are notified at least 30 days prior to a burn.  But because prescribed burns requires specific weather conditions in order to be completed safely and effectively, an exact date cannot be provided until 24 hours in advance.

Prescribed burns planned in 2015 include:

  • Alotian Unit: Initial burn window of February – April.  The burn was not completed during this time frame.  CAW may target this for a burn in the fall and early winter of 2015.  Unit size of 101 acres.  Click here for the project summary or the map below for the project site map.

Map of the Alotian Unit. Click to enlarge.

  •  Bufflehead Bay Unit:  Burn completed successfully on April 8, 2015.  Approximately 98% of the 193 acre unit was burned to an optimal level, achieving the ecological and water qualtiy objectives for the burn.  Click here for the project summary or the map below for the project site map.

    Bufflehead Bay Prescribed Burn Unit Map

    Map of Bufflehead Unit. Click to enlarge.

CAW also maintains information on prescribed burns from prior years.  Please click here for information on past prescribed burns, updates on their success, and photos of the prescribed burn areas after the activities.

Safety and Smoke

Central Arkansas Water partners with skilled experts to complete our prescribed burns safely and effectively.  Specially trained crews skilled in prescribed burn operations will perform our burns, focusing on safety of people and property throughout all phases.  CAW and our partners place signage along all major roadways in the proximity of the burn as well as restrict access to the site on the days before, during, and after the prescribed burn.

Prescribed burns are only started under very specific favorable conditions, which include consideration of weather, moisture content, and availability of trained personnel. Though the burn will occur under conditions intended to minimize smoke and increase dispersion, smoke will be visible in the area.  The smoke from a prescribed burn is typically less than that of a large wildfire.


Smoke from a CAW prescribed burn at Bufflehead Bay. The burn was planned and conducted to direct smoke over Lake Maumelle rather than Highway 10.