Prescribed Fire Field Day Highlights Healthy Forest Management & Celebrates Black History Month

On February 7th, landowners gathered at the Willie Hodges Estate Family Farm, outside of Swainsboro, Georgia, to learn about how prescribed fire can be one of the best management tools for longleaf pine trees and the wildlife that lives within the ecosystem. Many landowners held a drip torch, the tool used to safely apply fire to the landscape, for the first time as they walked fire breaks to apply lines of fire to the ground.

Prescribed fire has many benefits for trees, plants and wildlife in the longleaf pine historic range. It is a fuel reduction technique that: prevents wildfires, reduces dense vegetation and woody competition so that longleaf pine trees can grow and thrive, controls insects and diseases, and enhances the aesthetics by increasing the visibility of flowering annuals and biennials creating a savanna-like landscape.

Mr. Hodges shared how significant it was to hold the Learn and Burn during February when our nation honors and celebrates Black history month. This was the second educational event held at the model farm in the past two months. Many of the participants shared how meaningful it was to attend an event that was held on a property owned by an African-American family, that addressed specific barriers and opportunities that minority landowners have faced for many decades, and presented opportunities and resources to assist with land management and decision-making.

The field day was held at the Willie Hodges Estate Family Farm in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), with additional support from The Georgia Conservancy, Pine County RC&D, Georgia Wildlife Federation, and Georgia Department of Natural Resources. NWF, NRCS and Longleaf for All have worked together to create a model farm approach of mentorship to fellow landowners. Mr. Hodges, retired from the Army and a career in education, has stepped into the mentorship role with great enthusiasm and approach, particularly providing mentorship to fellow minority landowners of color.

Learn and Burn, February 7, 2023 and the Willie Hodges Estate Farm.