SCHLEY COUNTY, Ga. — This is the time of year many landowners conduct controlled burns. These are purposefully set fires to clean properties and boost the environment. As the Georgia Forestry Commission tells News 3, a great deal of science drives these burns.
“We’re trying to get it to where we do fuel reduction, hazard reduction within the stand, so if a wildfire does occur within that stand, it doesn’t do as much damage,” says Chief Ranger Brent McCarty of the Georgia Forestry Commission in Schley-Sumter Counties District.
That fuel Chief Ranger McCarty is speaking about is untamed, wildly growing brush under trees. It can be gasoline for spreading wildfires, if not regularly tamed with controlled burns.
Controlled burns also benefit wildlife.
“Small herbs and small forage grows back up within the stand. It makes it to where it’s a benefit to animals there within the area,” says Chief Ranger McCarty.
For timber growers, it helps pine trees flourish.
“It will reduce competitive hardwoods within the pines at certain times of the year to where then the timber can grow faster and have more areas to be able to expand,” says Chief Ranger McCarty.
This year, weather might prove a challenge for some landowners.
The Georgia Forestry Commission wants to be sure the land is managed properly for landowners. And since this spring is predicted to be drier and hotter than usual, they say it might be in the landowner’s best interests to delay controlled burns until next year.
However, right now, there are no burn bans in Georgia. Safety, though, is always important. That’s why you’re legally required to call the Forestry Commission for a burning permit before starting a fire.
The Forestry Commission can also help you come up with a control burn plan.
Ranger McCarty says that ideally temperatures should be 60 degrees or cooler for controlled burns to protect pines from the heat produced by the fires.
Also, when it comes to planning for controlled burns, your local Forestry Commission can help you make fire breaks to protect bordering property lines.
Remember, before you burn, you must obtain a burning permit. It’s the law.