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photo/ A forestry employee sets a controlled burn. Learn how managed fires can improve the safety of your home and environment of your woods at a seminar of the N. Ga. Prescribed Fire Council.

Smokey the Bear has evolved

Learn the latest on controlled forest burns June 22

  “Smokey Bear is our mascot. We take him everywhere but he was the worst thing in the world for this process with his prevent forest fires and put them all out and didn’t let them burn and do their thing,” said Frank Riley, an organizer of the North Georgia Prescribed Council meeting at Chattahoochee Tech on June 22.

            Now, Smokey says wildfires instead of forest fires. And the public is welcome to attend the daylong seminar at Chattahoochee Tech and find out why the change is important to all Georgians. Registration for the event starts at 8 a.m. The cost for attending all sessions and for professionals is $35 and includes breakfast and lunch and the chance to win door prizes.

            But, Riley said any property owner is welcome to stop by pick up information about the benefits and ask questions for free.

            It may strike some as odd that fire professionals want homeowners to consider burning their property but, according to Riley, it’s essential for a lot of different reasons from public safety to environmental.

            “A lot of people don’t understand [we are] living in the forest,” he said. “They still believe every fire is bad but no it’s not.” Rural Georgia is considered an urban/forest interface and that can pose a danger for massive fires if fuel is allowed to build up on the forest floor for years and years.

            Riley said the reason there are such massive wildfires out west is they never do controlled burns and it allows fallen trees and other natural debris to accumulate.

            But going back to eternity there have been natural forest fires cleaning out the fuel on the ground and fires are healthy for many plants and improve the vegetation for animals to browse.

            Now with all the people living in north Georgia, a wild fire is a huge risk and can’t be allowed to burn naturally in most cases. But a controlled burn is a good thing – hence the reason Smokey says wildfires instead of forest fires now to note the difference between out of control and controlled.

            Riley said any homeowner, even on a small wooded lot can consider controlled burns to improve their forest environment and home safety. Ga. Forestry Commission can handle a controlled burn but they can also be accomplished through private consultants. A homeowner is required to have certain practices in place and to get permission prior to setting the woods ablaze but all of this is feasible and will be discussed at the N. Ga. Prescribed Fire Council meeting on June 22nd. To show the broad support for controlled groups as diverse as the forestry commission and The Nature Conservancy will all people there.

            To find out more log on to the website,

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