Educate yourself before conducting a prescribed burn

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Prescribed fires provide countless benefits to the environment. They help keep forest undergrowth in control and prevent wide-scale wildfires, among other things. However, it is important to keep in mind that there are several steps that must be taken before performing a prescribed fire.

According to an article by the U.S. Forest Service, prescribed fires can accomplish several things such as reducing hazardous fuels, removing unwanted species, adding nutrients to the soil, and preventing trees, wildflowers and other plants from being overcrowded. Joseph Pettigrew, with Pettigrew Forestry Consultants, said prescribed fires help landowners maintain control of their woods. He said prescribed fires control the underbrush and reduce hazards. By burning off the bushes and weeds that would otherwise be allowed to grow uncontrolled, the trees are able to receive the proper amounts of sunlight and nutrients from the soil.

While prescribed fires can be helpful, they can also be dangerous. If a fire is not carefully controlled, it can easily get out of hand and cause property damage and injuries.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

According to Mississippi state code 49-19-307, a prescribed fire must take place under the supervision of a “burn manager” who has undergone a Mississippi Forestry Commission certification program. Plus, a “prescription,” which details how the burn will be handled and how it will benefit the local ecosystem, must be written and notarized before the burning takes place. A burn permit must also be obtained and steps taken to stay within Mississippi air pollution regulations.

Crosby Arboretum staff, according to their website, conduct regular burns to maintain the surrounding ecosystem. Burn Manager Terry Johnson is in charge of the burns and is always on the lookout for volunteers to help, the website states. Those who choose to volunteer can learn valuable burn techniques.

Arboretum Director Pat Drackett said via text correspondence that Arboretum staff members Terri and Scott Fabacher are certified burn managers and can provide certification training.

“The training is provided by the Mississippi Forestry Commission. They give the trainings. Occasionally, the Arboretum has given introductory classes on prescribed fire for family forest owners,” Drackett said via text.

Scott and Terri Fabacher can be reached by calling the Arboretum.

For those interested in volunteering, “Burning will be done on Thursdays and Fridays if environmental conditions are favorable. Wear old clothes and boots, dress for the weather and bring a lunch,” the website states.

For more information about prescribed burning or to volunteer, call Terry Johnson at 601-799-2311 ext. 105.