Students from the National Prescribed Fire Training Center (PFTC) recently joined staff of The Nature Conservancy for some intensive on-the-ground training near Vancleave, MS. The Center offers firefighters and land managers from across the nation practical experience utilizing prescribed fire as a safe and economical tool for managing forest resources, improving wildlife habitat, and reducing risk of damaging wildfires. Students of the PFTC spent time learning from the seasoned fire practitioners of the Conservancy’s Central Gulf Cooperative (CGC) Fire Team.
Prescribed fire simulates the natural role fire has played in southeastern forests for thousands of years; longleaf pine forests are absolutely dependent on fire. Appropriate application of fire improves wildlife habitat, improves hunting and recreational opportunities and increases timber value. Prescribed fire also reduces the risk of destructive wildfires by reducing built-up plant material resulting from the absence of fire.
Prescribed fire is an ideal alternative to wildfire; good fires prevent bad ones. Through careful planning and extensive training, fire practitioners choose the appropriate time, place and weather conditions under which a burn will be conducted, establish predefined boundaries and manipulate fire behavior. Unintentional wildfires occurring on land managed by regular prescribed fire are less intense, produce less smoke, are easier to control and are safer for firefighters.
On March 8, 2012, a team of six students from the PFTC joined four staff from The Nature Conservancy on a 133 acre controlled burn in Jackson County. The training team developed practical skills in fire planning, leadership, ignition techniques and fire effects monitoring. Developing these skills for fire practitioners will ensure the continued use of this important land management tool.
Bryan Kreiter, Conservancy Fire Team Manager and Burn Boss, stated “These skills can’t be effectively learned in the classroom. On the ground practical training is essential.”
The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. More information at nature.org/Mississippi.
The mission of the Prescribed Fire Training Center is to provide opportunities for federal, state, local and tribal government agencies and other organizations to build skills and knowledge of prescribed fire, with an emphasis on field experience. More information at www.fws.gov/fire/pftc.
Also visit GoodFIRES.org.