Igniting a prescribed fire using a drip torch.
The longleaf pine systems in Mississippi and across the southeastern United States rely on regular fires to remain healthy. Not only does the regular burning permit the native plants and animals to avoid being crowded out of their areas by shrubs and other non-native species, but it reduces the risk of catastrophic wildfires—a topic much on the mind of Mississippi landowners after last year’s fires across the United States.
The Nature Conservancy recently hosted a training session for private landowners to share information about how and when to utilize this important land management technique. Along with representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, and the Mississippi Forestry Commission, the Conservancy shared the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of planned, controlled burns.
The course included basic concepts and considerations of implementing a planned, controlled burn program on private property. Instructors shared their expertise with regards to the type of weather needed for a safe, successful fire; forest plants (fuels) and the differences with which they burn in such circumstances; planning for the use of fire; and legal considerations.
While participants walked away with a lot of knowledge, they also completed the course by observing an actual planned, controlled fire so that they would experience the process of such fires from start to finish.
For an inside look at a prescribed fire at Eglin Air Force Base led by a former Conservancy fire team member, watch this video.