Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain said the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) wants to create a greater awareness among the public of the benefits of prescribed burning in the state’s forested lands.

“The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry is kicking off a statewide prescribed burn awareness campaign to let the public know there are good fires and bad fires,” Strain said.

“Prescribed burning is a useful, environmentally friendly management tool used to improve the health of Louisiana forests.  Many people aren’t familiar with prescribed burning and do not understand the positive effects it has on certain wildland environments.” 

The campaign is a joint effort by LDAF, the U.S. Forest Service and the Southern Group of State Foresters and is designed to raise Louisiana residents’ public awareness of the benefits of prescribed burning.

Radio spots and public service announcements (PSA's) will be broadcast statewide including here on 96.5 KVKI.  The spots will feature Smokey Bear and Strain in a forest scene reminding viewers that prescribed burning conducted by trained professionals has benefits for wildlands and the creatures that live there.

State Forester Wade Dubea said prescribed burning is a cost-effective way to maintain forest health for many dependent wildlife and plant species, while also reducing woody debris that can fuel dangerous wildfires.

For example, the control of understory brush creates better flyways for bird species such as the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker while stimulating new growth of legumes and forbs (broad leaf herbs) which are valuable as food for many game species.

A prescribed fire should be performed only by certified trained personnel under specific environmental conditions to ensure public safety while achieving management goals.

To become a Certified Prescribed Burner a person must possess prescribed burning knowledge and experience, as well as have passed a written comprehensive test administered by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.  

For additional information on the benefits of prescribed burning, please visit websites visitmyforest.org, goodfires.org and LDAF.la.gov.