Build better habitat with fire through special workshops

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LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and its conservation partners are offering four free workshops for landowners interested in beginning or improving the use of prescribed fire on their property to increase wildlife habitat this December. 

Fire crew and vehicles parked along road

The workshops are a partnership between the AGFC, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture Forestry Division, the National Weather Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Arkansas Forestry Association and Quail Forever. Three workshops will be devoted to introducing landowners to the benefits and implementation of prescribed fire, and a fourth workshop will be an opportunity to learn more about forming cooperatives with other landowners to manage habitat together with prescribed fire.

“Prescribed fire can be a key component to managing your land for wildlife management, timber production and even livestock production,” said Clint Johnson, Private Lands Biologist for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “But the thought of using fire can be intimidating to some landowners. That’s how these workshops can help.”

Johnson says three “Learn to Burn” workshops will focus on the concepts of using fire and showing participants some of the basic tools and techniques used to prepare an area and burn it. The low-intensity fire used will promote native grasses and wildflowers and clear away leaf litter and less desirable saplings.

Fireman walking in woods

Each workshop also offers a meeting hub for landowners and biologists to learn more about programs in their area that can assist them with their management goals.

The fourth workshop, scheduled for Conway on Dec. 9, is focused more on meeting other landowners who want to increase or improve their use of prescribed fire to create cooperatives and work together to manage habitat through prescribed fires over a larger area.

“We are hoping to set up a system of neighbors helping neighbors safely conduct burns on each other’s properties. If an organization is formed, we can offer grants to supply equipment and training,” Johnson said. “And with everyone in an area on the same page, you will see much more benefits from management actions because they complement each other.”

Even landowners who eventually choose a third-party contractor to carry out prescribed fire on their land can benefit from these workshops. By learning about the process ahead of time, a landowner can be prepared to answer the questions a contractor would have in establishing a burn plan and will be more informed about realistic results and conditions.

Thirty people can attend each workshop, and registration is handled through a free online service. With the limited number of seats, Johnson suggests applicants register well in advance of the class date.

“We try to schedule prescribed fire workshops whenever we can because it is such a valuable tool for landowners to improve wildlife habitat on their property,” Johnson said. “But the classes fill quickly, so I would advise anyone who is interested in learning more about the practice to sign up as soon as they can.”

Three Learn to Burn Workshops are available:

Conway 
6-8:30 p.m., 2-night workshop Dec. 3 and 5
Camp Robinson Special Use Area
331 Clinton Road, Conway
Visit learn-to-burn-conway.eventbrite.com or call 205-412-9205 to register.

Fort Smith 
10 a.m.-3 p.m., Dec. 10
Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center
8300 Wells Lake Road, Fort Smith
Visit learn-to-burn-fortsmith.eventbrite.com or call 479-222-5894 to register.

Russellville 
10 a.m.-3 p.m., Dec. 11
Arkansas Tech University, Doc Bryan Student Services Center, Room 242
1604 N. Coliseum Drive, Russellville
Visit learn-to-burn-russellville.eventbrite.com or call 501-270-1926 to register.

The Prescribed Burn Association Formation Meeting is available at:

Conway 
6 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Dec. 9
Camp Robinson Special Use Area
331 Clinton Road, Conway
Visit prescribed-burn-association.eventbrite.com or call 501-270-1926 to register.

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