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Learn to Burn Workshops Graphic Credit: Kelly Knowles
Learn to burn workshop, Brewton, AL Image Credit Ryan Mitchell

Learn to Burn workshop in Brewton, Alabama

Prescribed fire is a complex tool landowners and managers use to improve habitat, reduce hazard fuel loads, and restore forestland. The lack of training is a major barrier noted by landowners preventing them from conducting their own prescribed burns. One method developed to address this barrier are Learn to Burn (LtB) workshops. During these workshops, attendees are paired with experienced prescribed burners, typically Certified Prescribed Burn Managers, who serve as mentors throughout the event.  Landowners, natural resource professionals, students, and inquisitive citizens make up the majority of attendees. Some of the topics covered in the workshop include planning prior to the burn, creating a burn plan, weather, tools and techniques, roles and responsibilities, with safety being woven into all aspects of the event.

A distinguishing characteristic of the LtB model is attendees are active participants, working with mentors to do the actual prescribed burn. During the burn, everyone interested will have a chance to use a drip torch to practice ignition patterns, gain experiences with different tools utilized when “holding” the fire inside the burn unit, and pickup tips from professionals. Afterwards, attendees come together to have an After-Action Review and talk about what was planned, how it was executed, discuss any unforeseen obstacles, and ways to improve the next burn. This is an important step that is often used by professionals—but rarely used by landowners—to help determine if the burn was successful.

Results to Date

As of June 1, 2022, 140 attendees and professionals have taken part in five different Learn to Burn workshops. Surveying the landowners, ownership size varied among landowners with 36% owning less than 100 acres, 52% owning between 100-500 acres, and 11% owning more than 500 acres. When attendees were asked about experiences before versus plans after the Learn to Burn, those who answered “still not conduct a prescribed burn on my property” decreased by 89% and those answering “I will manage a burn on my own land” increased by 316%. Ninety-seven percent of attendees said they would implement practices learned during the event.

Prescribed fire is one of the most cost-effective management tools for woodlands in Alabama. If you own 5 acres or 5,000 acres, attending a Learn to Burn is a good way to gain experience, as well as networking with other landowners.

Registration Information

For more information about prescribed fire visit www.aces.edu/go/goodfire. A list of course dates and locations for Prescribed Burn Manager Certification courses in Alabama can be found by visiting https://forestry.alabama.gov/Pages/Fire/BurnManager.aspx.

 

A big thank you to the Gulf Coast RC&D, Wiregrass RC&D, Alabama Forestry Commission, and Alabama Forestry Foundation for the support they provided throughout this program.

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