The Longleaf Implementation Team of Texas would like to work with private landowners to safely and successfully use prescribed burning on their lands in east Texas. Of particular interest is the application of fire in upland and wetland pine forests to reduce woodland fuels so that uncontrolled wildfires do not harm/destroy forests and property. Trained and experienced crews can do the work in a safe and effective manner. Burning in pine stands can also help to control woody competition such as yaupon holly, a native, yet invasive shrub to longleaf pine forests.
In early June, our Texas longleaf team hosted The Texas Department of Agriculture Certified Prescribed Burn Manager Course in Lufkin, Texas. We had 23 participants. Most participants had years of burning experience through their employers. Several of the forestry consulting firms sent staff to attend the training to develop more prescribe burn expertise within their companies.
The 4 -day course gave participants focused piney woods information. The Texas Department of Agriculture certified lead instructor was Ray Hinnant. I helped facilitate the course with content such as fire behavior. We were assisted by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff including biologist, Jeff Sparks, who provided a focused study of the effects of fire on the vegetation of east Texas. TPWD state-wide fire coordinator, Chris Schenck, provided support with instruction, staff, and equipment for the course and the live fire exercise. Staff of The Nature Conservancy and Acorn Forestry provided their time, expertise and valuable input to the training effort. Classroom training modules included weather, fire behavior, smoke management, safety, developing a burn prescription, fuels, and some specifics such as using fire in pine plantations, understory burning, site preparation, and longleaf restoration.
The course required a live fire exercise which was somewhat challenging in June. Fortunately, Simon Winston, landowner, provided a stand of mature loblolly with a history of frequent prescribed fire and low amounts of accumulated fuels. The class completed a low intensity understory burn under favorable conditions within a burn prescription. Early summer burning can be an effective way to meet landowner objectives to control yaupon, reduce fuel loads and promote grasses and forbs that are beneficial to wildlife.
Landowners are encouraged to contact nearby offices of the Texas A&M Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to learn about cost-share programs for controlled burning on their land. Foresters with the Texas A&M Forest Service can provide technical assistance for land stewardship. Their website provides names of forestry vendors that do prescribed burning. Also, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has information and assistance for private lands controlled burning.
Texas Department of Agriculture has created a Prescribed Burning Board that regulates certified and insured prescribed burn managers. Check out the TDA website for more information about the licensing process, required fees and standards regarding the TDA certified prescribed burn manager course.