Over the past few years, the national news media has reported about catastrophic wildfires in the western United States. In California, legislators and land administrators are moving to more prescribed fire to avoid these violent conflagrations, which displace citizens and destroy infrastructure. In Louisiana, longleaf pine is a native tree well suited for southern fire ecology, and numerous plant and animal species thrive in this longleaf landscape. The safe, effective use of managed fire provides both social and ecological benefits.
In June of 2019, 28 people attended an annual prescribed burn workshop in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Forestry (LDAF). LDAF provided a venue at the Woodworth District Office near Woodworth. This multiday event entailed both classroom training and a live fire exercise in the Alexander State Forest.
This training workshop enables forest landowners to burn their lands safely and legally. Topics included fuels, burning techniques, proper tools, optimal weather conditions, smoke management, liability management, planning, fire behavior and more. This training will begin the process of becoming a Louisiana Certified Burn Manager (CBM). The completion of five prescribed fires and their documentation will complete the process.
Dr. Niels de Hoop was the lead instructor for this training, and he also enables forestry students to be CBMs before graduation. Dr. de Hoop spent a lot of time covering the “burn plan” because this document will provide limited liability protection for land managers using controlled fire. One important topic was smoke management because most complaints about these managed burns is the smoke affecting sensitive areas.
Evaluations of this event revealed that most attendees felt “more confident,” and they aspired to “plan better.” According to these evaluations, the understanding of these students regarding various aspects of controlled fire increased for most.
The next prescribed burn workshop will be October 16 to 18 at the Idlewild Research Station near Clinton. Contact Whitney Wallace, area extension forester, at email@example.com , for more information.
Keith Hawkins is an associate area agent specializing in forestry for the AgCenter in the Southwestern Region.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture