While human safety is priority one, fire fighting also protects Tennessee’s 14 million acres of forestland. Forests and the forest products industry accounts for $21.7 billion or seven percent of Tennessee’s economy, employing more than 184,000 workers, 5.2 percent of the workforce.
Outdoor sports like hunting and fishing, which depend upon healthy forests, contribute an additional $2.5 billion in the state’s economy, and the scenic beauty of our forests supports the state’s $10.3 billion tourism industry. Forest fires are also a threat to homes and other property. Each year over a dozen Tennessee homes are lost to wildfire, and even more outbuildings and equipment are lost.
Across the state many Tennesseans are moving away from crowded urban areas to rural homes. In many instances these homes are built in the wildland environment. This situation is referred to as the “Wildland-Urban Interface” (WUI). Wildfires that occur in the WUI also threaten and sometimes destroy homes and other improvements. The Division of Forestry is actively working with communities and local fire departments to educate and inform homeowners about how they can mitigate this risk.
For more information on safe burning visit www.burnsafetn.org.