Controlled, or Back, Burning Field Grass

As public use for lawns this is against the law, however if it is an agricultural necessity you may seek out permission.  Back Burning is normally done as forest management, controlled burning is also used in agriculture. Often referred to as slash and burn it is seen as one component of shifting cultivation, or part of field preparation for planting. Often called field burning, this technique is used to clear the land of any existing crop residue as well as kill weeds and weed seeds. Field burning is less expensive than most other methods such as herbicides or tillage, but because it does produce smoke and other fire-related pollutants, its use is not popular in agricultural areas bounded by residential housing.  In the United States, field burning is a legislative and regulatory issue at both the federal and state levels of government.  For more details on the controversy and the history of field burning check out our BLOG at


Field burning has been widely used, in Oregon, by grass seed farmers as a method for clearing fields for the next round of planting, as well as revitalizing serotinous grasses that require fire in order to grow seed again. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality began requiring a permit for farmers to burn their fields in 1981, but the requirements became stricter in 1988 following a multi-car collision[18] in which smoke from field burning, obscured the vision of drivers on Interstate 5, leading to a 23-car collision in which 5 people died and 37 were injured.[19]  This has increased the scrutiny of field burning and proposals to ban field burning altogether.[20][21][22}   The conflict of a controlled burn policy, in the United States, the notion of fire as a tool had evolved by the late 1970’s when the National Park Service authorized and administered controlled burns.[24]  The methodology was still relatively emergent the Yellowstone fires of 1988 significantly politicized fire management.  Misinformation from those fires lead to reports that drastically inflated the scale of the fires which stigmatized politicians (in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana) to believe that all fires represented a loss of revenue from tourism.[24]   Partially as a result stricter data recording was enforced and thresholds were established for determining which fires must be suppressed.[25]   Paramount to the new action plans, is the suppression of fires that threaten the loss of human life with leniency toward areas of historic, scientific, or special ecological interest.[26]  Since 1988, many states have made progress toward controlled burns but with a proclivity toward forgetfulness between fire events. Oregon and Idaho Senators have been moving to reduce the shifting of capital from fire prevention to fire suppression following the harsh fires of 2017 in both states.[27]