COVINGTON, Ga. - In a proclamation ceremony on Feb. 4, Gov. Brian Kemp recognized Feb. 3 – 10 as Prescribed Fire Awareness Week in Georgia. Georgia Wildlife Federation President Mike Worley, currently serving as chair of the Georgia Prescribed Fire Council, was in attendance along with representatives from the Georgia Forestry Commission and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Prescribed fire is the controlled burning of vegetation in order to reduce the excessive build-up of flammable materials on the forest floor and mimic the natural cycle of ecosystems such as the longleaf pine habitats of central and south Georgia.
“Fire has always played an important role in maintaining healthy habitats for wildlife,” comments Worley. “In fact, fire is required in the growth of longleaf pine, the dominant plant species in an ecosystem that supports populations of gopher tortoise, indigo snake, red-cockaded woodpecker, and others. Prescribed fire is the primary management tool available to promote and maintain this critical ecosystem and its dependent wildlife.”
In addition to the benefit to wildlife, prescribed fire is also used to protect people and property from the threat of catastrophic wildfires. By reducing the amount of vegetative fuel on the ground under confined, controlled situations, the likelihood of seeing devastating fire damage is greatly diminished.
In Georgia, approximately 1.4 million acres of forests are managed each year through prescribed fire on both private and public lands. To learn more about acquiring a fire “prescription” for your land, call your local Georgia Forestry Commission office or visit www.gatrees.org.