Georgia's Burning Up with Prescribed Fires

By: Caroline Gonzmart Email
By: Caroline Gonzmart Email

Clouds of smoke hover on the horizon in south Georgia -- but firefighters aren't rushing to the scene.

The time has begun when landowners traditionally burn the excess brush, or 'fuel load' on their properties -- a practice that experts say happened in nature long before mankind existed.

Says Greg Findley, district manager for the Georgia Forestry Commission in Camilla, Georgia, "Even before the Indians, lightning started fires, so the trees that we have and the animals that we have are adapted to fire ecologically."

In already-burned patches of trees, the flames may be out, but the benefits left behind are numerous.

Sonny Lee is the CEO of Balfour Land Company -- and he's been prescribed burning for decades.

Says Lee, "Selective burn will enhance nature. At the time of the year that you burn, you don't destroy anything because nothing's nesting, and your animals, like your deer, your rabbits, 'possums, and 'coons, they get up and out of the way -- you're not going to burn them."

Findley adds, "[Burning] reduces the hazardous fueld build-up in the woods, and that way if there is a wildfire, the fire is able to be controlled much easier."

Those who burn say safety is always the number one priority.

For those who might drive by prescribed burn sites, local law enforcement advises the same tips as they do for driving in foggy conditions -- turn on your headlights and slow down.

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