Fuel that can carry a fire burning in low-growing vegetation to taller vegetation is called ladder fuel. Examples of ladder fuels include low-lying tree branches and shrubs and trees under the canopy of a large tree. In areas prone to wildfire, creating a separation in vegetation by removing ladder fuels is an important task. The recommended separation distance may vary by community and vegetation type, so check with your fire marshal or state division of forestry. Proper removal of ladder fuels usually entails proper pruning and shrub/tree removal practices. Contact your Cooperative Extension office regarding appropriate pruning and vegetation management techniques for your area.
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