(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that the application of prescribed burning is a landowner property right and a land management tool that benefits the safety of the public, the environment, the natural resources, and the economy of Alabama. Therefore, the Legislature finds that:
(1) Prescribed burning reduces naturally occurring vegetative fuels within wildland areas. The reduction of the fuel load reduces the risk and severity of major catastrophic wildfire, thereby reducing the threat of loss of life and property, particularly in urbanizing areas.
(2) Many of Alabama's natural communities require periodic fire for maintenance of their ecological integrity. Prescribed burning is essential to the perpetuation, restoration, and management of many plant and animal communities. Significant loss of the state's biological diversity will occur if fire is excluded from fire-dependent ecosystems.
(3) Forest lands constitute significant economic, biological, and aesthetic resources of statewide importance. Prescribed burning on forest land prepares sites for reforestation, removes undesirable competing vegetation, improves wildlife habitat, expedites nutrient cycling, and controls or eliminates certain forest pathogens.
(4) The state manages hundreds of thousands of acres of land for parks, wildlife management areas, forests and other public purposes. The use of prescribed burning for management of public lands is essential to maintain the specific resource values for which these lands were acquired.
(5) Proper training in the use of prescribed burning is necessary to ensure maximum benefits and protection for the public.
(6) As the population of Alabama continues to grow, pressures from liability issues and nuisance complaints inhibit the use of prescribed burning.
(b) The purpose of this article is to authorize and promote the continued use of prescribed burning for ecological, silvicultural, agricultural and wildlife management purposes.