Burn season ends April 1st, and local landowners are trying to capitalize. Today marked the first "Learn to Burn" workshop at Black River Technical College in Pocahontas. It was to teach property owners how to start and manager fires, while using weather to their advantage.
"There's probably less than ten burn days a year in the wintertime that's really conducive to doing prescribed fires," says Tim Z. of the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission. "We want people to be educated on why this is going on, and what the wildlife benefits are to those."
National Weather Service Memphis Senior weather forecaster Jeff Godswart says that burning requires balance to prevent problems with smoke inhalation, and to prevent the fire from spilling over into someone else's property.
"Big factors that we really look at is the humidity of the air, the temperature, and the wind," says Godswart. "We definitely recommend that the conditions be dry, but not too dry to the point that you can actually lose the fire. You do also want a little bit of wind to help move that fire along."
Though some might be skeptical, leaders from Arkansas Game & Fish say that controlled fires, when done correctly, can lead to big benefits including an increase in vegetation, and significant reduction in leaf litter. It will help to curb the spread of deadly wildfires.
Experts argue that burning, grazing and rest are powerful and cost-effective tools for managing local wildlife habitats. And also improving breeding conditions for deer, turkey and quail.
"By doing routine burns every three to four years, you can keep that leaf litter and woody debris in a manageable area to where it's not going to be a potential source of fuel."
The prescribed burn workshop also connects property owners to professional services, including the Stevens program, which is free though the Game & Fish Commission, and a pay-per-burn service provided by Arkansas' Forresty Commission.
They caution that although Arkansas' laws are loose, property owners, are liable for all fires.