Burning for Conservation: Bryan Kreiter

Who Loves Fire?

See some of the animals and plants that depend on fire for survival.

It’s likely that you aren’t as interested in the weather as Conservancy employee Bryan Kreiter. Bryan is the Stewardship and Fire Team Manager for the Central Gulf Cooperative (CGC), whose responsibilities include prescribed fires across Mississippi and Louisiana—and weather is a significant factor in whether or not a prescribed burn takes place. Precipitation, prevailing winds, threats of storms and many other factors can easily sidetrack the team’s activities, plus there’s coordination with a number of partner organizations and agencies that are involved in these complex endeavors.

Bryan’s no stranger to coordinating projects and activities. Bryan’s interest in weather-dependent activities stems from his childhood in Iowa, where he grew up raising corn, soybeans and horses. His interest in wildlife originated at an early age, when he was involved in restoration projects through 4H and Pheasants Forever—even winning several awards for his efforts to create wildlife habitat.

Bryan’s interest in wildlife led him to Iowa State University to pursue a degree in Wildlife Ecology, and that is where his connections to The Nature Conservancy started. He spent three summers working for the Conservancy in Iowa as part of the Anna Beal Scholarship Intern Crew, and after graduation, started his work full-time in South Dakota. As Preserve Management Technician for the Conservancy, he learned firsthand about the use of prescribed fire as a land management tool, skills he continues to hone today.

Prior to arriving in Mississippi, Bryan spent more than six years on the Conservancy’s Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserves in Florida. At Apalachicola Bluffs, Bryan expanded his South Dakota experiences in groundcover restoration, increasing the efficiency of the Bluffs restoration program. Bryan’s experiences also included additional planning and implementing prescribed fire events, and became a ‘Burn Boss’—one of about 75 Conservancy staff members who plan and oversee prescribed fire activities.

With participation in more than 200 prescribed fire events since starting at the Conservancy, Bryan has a keen sense of how best to organize and manage those activities, and weather plays a critical factor in each event—both before and during the burns. Since 2010, Bryan has been the Stewardship/Fire Team Manager for the Mississippi Chapter and he leads the CGC Stewardship/Fire Teams for both Mississippi and southeast Louisiana.

Even on a clear day, you’ll find Bryan checking the radar, forecasts, humidity, wind direction and much more to determine if conditions are favorable for a prescribed fire event. Late winter to mid-summer tend to be the busiest times for Bryan’s teams—as long as the weather cooperates!

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