“Practice fire safety - watch what you heat.” ~Author Unknown
The members of the Central Gulf Cooperative (CGC) live by this adage each day. Through the carefully planned use of prescribed fires, the team works throughout Mississippi and Louisiana to help improve habitats, reduce invasive species, and reduce the risk of future catastrophic fires.
Southern Mississippi is a great example of an ecosystem where plants and animals are adapted to regular, moderate fires. In the absence of these fires, plants and shrubs grow densely, changing the amount of sunlight reaching the ground, the types of food available to herbivores, and even the amount of water available for native plants and animals.
The CGC team and partners use controlled fires in specific areas to clear out dense shrubbery and restore the historical plantscape. Even endangered species can benefit from prescribed burns. Gopher frogs, for example, benefit from areas free of dense shrubs and trees around the ponds where they live.
By ‘fighting fire with fire,’ the use of prescribed fires can actually decrease the threat of catastrophic wildfires by decreasing the amount of fuel (plant materials) that could cause a wildfire to intensely burn. In an area that has a consistent prescribed fire schedule, wildfires started by events such as lightning burn far less intensely. The costs of fighting wildfires also decrease in such areas, and firefighters and businesses are at less risk for injury and destruction.