Newsletter #1
April 5, 2016
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A publication by the Southern Group of State Foresters to highlight progress within the context of the Cohesive Strategy and demonstrations of success across the South. Stories are always welcome and can be sent to
WFLC Quarterly Meeting held in Florida
The Wildland Fire Leadership Council held their quarterly meeting in Amelia Island, Florida, on Jan. 25-26. Some of the members could not attend due to the snow storm that hit the D.C. area. The meeting included a field tour of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge to discuss its wildfire situation. The group later met with a member of Greater Okefenokee Association of Landowners to discuss their challenge with timber production and fires burning off of the refuge.

Participants were treated to a presentation on efforts of the America's Longleaf Restoration Initiative, as well as briefings on the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) program and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process by the Osceola National Forests, highlighting how the programs assist with wildfire suppression cost.

The group also visited a cross boundary prescribed burn being conducted jointly by the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Forest Service. The burn consisted of 2,000+ acres utilizing aerial ignition. The field tour concluded with a visit to Baker, Florida, a Fire Adapted Community, with an interesting presentation on the work they have done as a community to lessen their risk to wildfires.
A Florida Forest Service burn boss explains the planning and execution requirements for conducting a multi-agency burn. The U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Florida Forest Service jointly burned over 2,000 acres during this burn (Photo by Gary C. Wood).

FWS and Partners Conduct Fire Workshop
The Fish and Wildlife Service Region 5 South Zone fire program, in conjunction with State and NGO partners, conducted a two-day workshop on grassland burning at Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge March 9-10, 2016. The purpose of the workshop was to provide participants an opportunity for discussion and the application of fire in these habitats in a field setting. The primary focus of management at Rappahannock is restoring and maintaining a variety of grassland habitats, and prescribed fire has been an important part of that management for over 15 years. With a full schedule of fire treatments in 2016 this was an ideal time and location to conduct a workshop.

The first day of the workshop was spent discussing some of the initial considerations for planning and executing a burn project, including setting goals and objectives, determining burn prescriptions, identifying grassland fuels, and preparation work and strategies for project execution. This discussion was conducting in a classroom setting, with a follow-up field tour after lunch.  The field tour afforded an opportunity to look at a variety of grasslands in a variety of conditions, and also to discuss the fire history of the individual fields. State Natural Heritage staff led a discussion of the vegetative composition of the fields, the wildlife benefits or deficiencies, and some strategies for habitat improvement.

Photo by Rebecca Wilson

The walking tour also enabled participants to discuss fireline options, including mowed lines, wet or blacklines, and the relationship between fuels, fire intensity and holding concerns.  There was very productive discussion throughout the day concerning some of the environmental considerations for grassland management, including both the biological environment as well as the fire environment. At the conclusion of Day 1 there was a summary safety discussion of the relationship between the 10 standard fire orders and prescribed fire operations in this fuel type.

The workshop benefited from unseasonably warm and dry weather for early March, which lent itself to a training burn in one of the units slated for treatment on Day 2.

Trainer and trainee positions were established within the burn organization, and participants were able to apply various firing and holding techniques in a relatively controlled setting. In the course of the burn, a demonstration of a fire shelter deployment was set up within the burn unit to give participants a sense of the effectiveness and limits of the New Generation fire shelter.

A previously-opened shelter was deployed in a small green area surrounded by cured warm season grasses, to represent a realistic deployment site in this fuel type, and fire was run through the site. The fast-moving fire resulted in some brief flame impingement, but did not de-laminate the shelter or otherwise cause any damage. There was no device inside the shelter to measure temperature, but several items placed inside the shelter (plastic bottles, cotton cloth) suffered no apparent harm. Click here to view the demonstration.
Participants in the workshop included personnel from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s State Parks and Natural Heritage Divisions, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and the National Park Service. A total of 28 personnel took part in the workshop. Well-established agreements and working relationships between all the agencies make this another example of an outstanding fire partnership in Virginia.

Southeast Agencies Recieve Recongnition
Florida Forest Service
During 2015, the Florida Forest Service successfully executed prescribed burns on more than 246,000 acres of state forest lands. This is the highest number of acres ever burned in a year by the Florida Forest Service, and it is the most ever in the U.S. by a state agency in a year. Florida hosts a Prescribed Fire Awareness Week each year to educate the public on the importance of prescribed fire to Florida’s ecosystems and to sustain a healthy forest. 

Austin Fire Department
The Austin Fire Department Wildfire Division received a "Ready, Set, Go" Award for innovation at the WUI Conference in Reno, Nev. The department uses the "Ready, Set, Go" program as the primary resource to be used towards mitigation goals in their Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). They host an annual wildfire readiness event and the Wildfire Division installed National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) fire danger signs at all 46 stations to increase situational awareness among their personnel and members of the community.
14th Annual Kentucky-Tennessee
Wildland Fire Academy
The 14th annual Kentucky-Tennessee Wildland Fire Academy was recently held with the first two week session in the history of the academy. The event is a collaborative effort sponsored and organized by the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tennessee Department of Agriculture -- Division of Forestry and the Kentucky Division of Forestry. The event continues to grow each year with this year serving 608 students with 28 different course offerings. Students representing local, state and federal agencies from 34 different states and territories participated. 
15th Annual Central Texas Wildfire Academy
The Texas Army National Guard hosted for the 15th Annual Central Texas Wildfire Academy at Camp Bowie, Texas. Sponsored by Texas Army National Guard, Dam Volunteer Fire Department and the Texas A&M Forest Service, the academy included a 107-acre prescribed burn as part of the training and to reduce the threat of high intensity fires in close proximity to the training facility. 
Upcoming Workshops and Webinars
For more information on each activity, go to
Fire, Fuels and Longleaf Pine Management Workshop and Field Tour
Wednesday, April 6, 2016;  8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. CT
Lessons from the Kisatchie National Forest and the Palustris Experimental Forest
Learn about: Fire Friendly Site-Prep Methods, Season of Burn and Longleaf Competition Control, Prescribed Fire and Invasive Species.

This workshop and field tour is designed to showcase some of the longleaf pine management strategies and lessons that have come from the Palustris Experimental Forest and the Kisatchie National Forest. Starting in the morning with regional experts who will present a series of indoor presentations. Followed in the afternoon with a guided tour of the nearby Palustris Experimental Forest to see firsthand some examples of the morning discussion topics.
Click here to download the event flyer, or register online at

Restoring Sandhill Ecosystems Workshop and Field Tour
Tuesday, April 26, 2016; 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. ET
Ordway-Swisher Biological Station
245 Mason Road, Melrose, Florida 32666

Come join the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station, the Southern Fire Exchange, the University of Florida, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, and the Nature Conservancy for a FREE restoring sandhills workshop and afternoon field tour on Tuesday, April 26th Regional experts will explain findings from recent research designed to improve the results of prescribed fire and restoration programs in sandhill ecosystems. In the afternoon we'll go into the field to talk about some examples of the morning discussion topics.
Registration will open closer to the event date.

Fire Science in the Ouachitas: The Pine Bluestem Buffalo Road Tour
Monday, May 2, 2016
Join us on this renowned field tour focused on a pine-bluestem restoration project at the Ouachita National Forest near Waldron, Arkansas. This area has been managed for decades using fire, benefiting many species from bobwhites to red-cockaded woodpeckers. The Pine-Bluestem Buffalo Road tour is a must-see for professionals, whether seeing it for the first time or revisiting this dynamic ecosystem. Experts will provide insights about management practices and effects. Click here for more information.

How cattle, logging, fire, and climate shaped the Mississippi Piney Woods since 1750
Thursday, April 14, 2016; 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. ET
Host: Southern Fire Exchange
Presenter: Grant Harley, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, University of Southern Mississippi

This webinar will discuss recent research that has reconstructed the historical fire regimes of southern Mississippi longleaf pine forests. Using fire history evidence, Dr. Harley has been able to understand the influence of past human land use activities as well as regional climate patterns on fire activity going back to the year 1750. This webinar will reveal his findings as well as management recommendations for those looking to burn in ways that mimic historical landscape patterns.
Click here to register for this webinar.

Fire’s Long Legacy
Wednesday, April 20, 2016; 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET
Host: Southern Fire Exchange
Presenter: Stephen Pyne, Ph.D., Regents’ Professor and Distinguished Sustainability Scholar

Fire is an endemic feature of terrestrial life on Earth and an indelible attribute of human societies. For over 400 million years fire has evolved; it continues to evolve as human society changes its combustion habits. The greatest phase change came when people began to burn lithic, fossil fuels rather than living, surface combustibles. The relationship between fire and humanity shapes contemporary pyrogeography and underwrites the Anthropocene, which might aptly be described as a Fire Age.
Click here to register for this webinar.

U.S. Wildfire Policy as Socio-Ecological Problem
April 25, 2016; 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. ET
Presenter: Toddi A. Steelman, Executive Director and Professor
School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan
Board of Directors, International Association of Wildland Fire

Wildfire policy in the United States faces significant challenges. Key goals are not being met, and tens of millions of acres on US National Forest and Department of Interior lands are at risk because they are out of step based on their current fire regime. In this seminar Professor Steelman will discuss how a socio-ecological understanding of wildfire in the US can be helpful in matching ecological changes with appropriate policies.
Click here to register for this webinar.
This publication is made possible through a grant from the USDA Forest Service.