Council Aims to Set Prescribed Fire Legacy in Georgia

Tifton, GA
Wednesday, September 2, 2015 - 15:15

The Georgia Prescribed Fire Council has set a high goal for its upcoming annual meeting: Promote the vital role of prescribed burning for generations to come.

    To help do that, a diverse lineup of speakers will explore an equally rich variety of fire-related topics at the Sept. 29 meeting in Tifton.

    Included is keynote speaker Janisse Ray, who tells in her popular book “Ecology of a Cracker Childhood” an engaging story of how longleaf pine “learned” to co-exist with fire.

    “The grass-trees began to learn that if they waited until the lightning went to sleep in the rainy springs and suddenly cast themselves upward, to the height of a yard or more in one season … then when the fires came again they could withstand the heat,” writes Ray, who has helped raise awareness about the importance of fire and the stewardship of fire-maintained ecosystems through her literature and lectures.

    Just as longleaf pine evolved to thrive in a fiery, lightning-filled environment, land managers across Georgia have learned how to apply the natural process of fire in a safe way to ensure ecosystem health and reduce the risk of wildfire. Prescribed fire is one of the most effective, efficient and economical ways to manage Georgia’s forest lands and ecosystems.

    This tool is driven by adaptive management, where techniques and prescriptions are changed to better achieve management goals. Those goals include preparing seedbeds, recycling nutrients into the soil, improving stand health and access, enhancing wildlife habitat, and protecting rare species.

    All will be on tap at the Prescribed Fire Council meeting scheduled at the University of Georgia’s Tifton Campus Conference Center and open to the public. Topics include fire and predator-prey relations, promoting fire in non-traditional ways, resources for fire practitioners, fire weather forecasts and burn planning, and more.

    The Georgia Prescribed Fire Council has served as a statewide platform for prescribed fire advocacy and public education since January 2007. Council partners include state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, and private landowners from across the state.

    Council Chair Shan Cammack said the annual meeting is an opportunity for prescribed fire practitioners to share their successes and learn about the latest research, tools and hot topics on fire. This year’s program, she explained, revolves around the concept of not only setting a fire, but setting a fire legacy.
    In the spirit of passing the torch, Cammack hopes the speakers inspire participants to pass on their knowledge and experience to family, friends, neighbors, students and the public.

    Mark Melvin, conservation manager at the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center in southwest Georgia, said it is important to inform the general public as well as elected officials about the benefits of prescribed fire in Georgia. The more people who understand and embrace this important tool, Melvin said, the more land managers will be able to use fire to restore and maintain natural habitats.

    For Cammack, the outlook is promising. “I’m seeing a neat trend,” she said. “I think public attitudes are changing about prescribed fire. This past season, all of the interactions that I had with visitors while burning on state parks was very positive and supportive!”
    Registration at the door is $25 per person. Students can register for $10 with their student identification. To reserve a spot for lunch, pre-registration is required by Sept. 15.

    Learn more about the meeting, pre-registration and the Georgia Prescribed Fire Council at www.garxfire.com/events.htm.

    Prescribed Fire Council Meeting at a Glance

    • What: Georgia Prescribed Fire Council annual meeting. Speakers, topics focused on prescribed fire, including author Janisse Ray and fire professionals.
    • When: 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 29
    • Where: UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center, Tifton
    • Registration: $25 ($10 for students with student ID). Pre-register by Sept. 15 to reserve a lunch spot.
    • Details: Jessica McCorvey, (229) 734-4706; jessica.mccorvey@jonesctr.org
    • Online: www.garxfire.com/events.htm

    More on Prescribed Fire

    • Georgia Prescribed Fire Council, www.garxfire.com
    • GoodFires.org, www.goodfires.org
    • Visit My Forest, www.visitmyforest.org
    • Georgia Forestry Commission, www.gfc.state.ga.us/forest-management/prescribed-fire
    • Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation/prescribed-fire