Prescribed burns allow Ga. Dept. of Natural Resources to help environment

JULIETTE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) –  Around the cool waters of Lake Juliette, the toolbox gets hot.

“Fire is the most important tool we have in our toolbox,” said Region Supervisor Kevin Kramer.

“Our fire torch will spray fire out of the side with an electric pump,” said Wildlife Technician Stanley Kirby.

But these guys aren’t just spraying fire around for nothing.

“They’re well trained–all of our people go through training as type two wildland firefighters and prescribed burned managers,” said Kramer.

The Department of Natural Resources does prescribed burns regularly.

“Most of the time it is intentional,” said Kramer. “They’re prescribed fires and they’re done to reduce the fuel load in the timber stand or to improve the habitat for wildlife or both.”

You’ve probably seen the smoke from prescribed burns at some point–but there’s no need to call 911 about it.

“That’s part of what our job is–to use fire on the landscape to achieve our objectives.”

Kramer’s objective is to help the environment–by burning it down.

We took a trip out to a burn site where Kramer and his crews have done prescribed burns.

They pick an area they’ve already decided that needs it.

“This property is managed as a wildlife management area, and there are designated hunts in this area,” said Kramer.

The four wheeler is the main tool.

“We’ve got a mix of diesel and gas, the gas helps it ignite quickly but the diesel keeps it burning,” said Kirby.

It spits fire!

Kirby rides on the burn track.

“When we establish the perimeter of a burn track, we use fire breaks which you see over here which is the bare dirt,” said Kramer.

The dirt keeps the fire contained.

“To add another level of safety to the fire breaks we black line around the breaks which is burning off the vegetation in a very slow manner to increase that fire break around the perimeter of the stand,” said Kramer.

So it’s safe, but why do they do it?

Deer and other types of wildlife need different plants to eat.

These plants can get really tall if they don’t get knocked back down.

The best way to keep the plants low so that the animals can get to it is to burn it.

The other reason is on the off chance there’s an actual wildfire, a prescribed burned area would give it less fuel, because a fire has already burned there.

The burns help hunters as well.

“We manage the deer herd to make sure it’s healthy and hunters can harvest the surplus deer from the population,” said Kramer.

The toolbox holds fire–fire that can be dangerous, but can also help the environment if it’s used right.

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