Archive for Rural Fire Safety

Forestry Forums – A Valuable Tool for Tree Farm Management

The Southwest Louisiana Forestry Forum, an educational program of the LSU AgCenter, will be coming up soon. It will be on Saturday, March 17, at the Southern Forest Heritage Museum, Longleaf, LA. It is also the Annual Meeting of the SW LA Forestry Association.

I asked Mr. George Giltner, a Tree Farmer and past President, Beauregard Forestry Association, to share his comments about the benefits of attending Forestry Forums. Here are his thoughts:

This is the time of year to get updates, make new contacts, and to review management plans with the assistance of forest forums throughout the state.  These meetings provide experts from the LSU AgCenter and other agencies to help deal with everything from estate planning to prescribed thinnings to maximize forest health and yield of our timber products.  While we are in the information age with computers and online information, human to human communication is by far the best means of disseminating forest information.

 Our Tree Farm has benefited over the years with professional advice from forest specialists. Dad first experimented with Timber Stand Improvement with a garden tractor modified to power a heavy drill that he used to inject herbicide.  That did not work as the cull trees simply continued to grow with dead holes in the trunk.  After attending one of the first available forestry meetings, he learned about girdling to destroy the cambium layer for hardwood control. Then we were off deadening hardwoods every weekend to improve our pine stands.  From that time on, we made every effort to keep up with the educational information at forestry seminars.  Probably the most significant seminars were on marketing timber for final rotation sales.  We doubled our expected returns by using sealed bids and the services of foresters for sales.  Estate planning seminars also had a profound effect on our ability to send the kids to college and to retain capital in the Tree Farm after Dad passed.

 Last year after hearing emphasis on fire protection, budget cuts affecting response times of fire fighters, and the need for continued management in a down market, we took our forester’s advice for a thinning on our home 80 acres.  Most of our fire lanes are now 20 to 25 feet wide, yaupon and other flammable brush has been reduced to ground level, and crowded pine beetle Ips infected areas have removed or opened up for healthy forest growth.

 Forestry forums have always been a catalyst for action.  The emphasis of subject matter that they bring forward, a better way to manage forests, and just the private discussions and interactions at meetings with professionals, lead to making the family forest more profitable and viable.  Plan on attending one or more!

Attitude of gratitude: Thank you, George for your comments.

 

 

 

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Firewise in Southwest Louisiana

During the weekend of February 11th, my wife (who wants to be cyberly anonymous) and I celebrated our 24th anniversary in the Hill Country of Texas. While my wife was interested in the chick shops in Wimberley, TX, I was interested in the landscape of the Hill County which is markedly different from SW Louisiana.

Hill County has rocky soils with scrubby trees while we have a lot less stones and many more tall trees. I saw a few cattle, a few goats, and a sign for alpacas, but little else regarding agriculture. The only forest products I saw was a small woodyard stacking mesquite posts.

As a former firefighter, I was also intrigued with how close homeowners have allowed the scrub cedar and other trees to grow near their homes. It seemed as if these folks were living in a sea of gasoline given how volatile these small trees are when ignited.

Southwest Louisiana is similar to the Hill Country in one aspect. Folks who build their homes in the woods are susceptible to losing their homes to wildfire because of the trees with resinous content are close by. These evergreen trees would pose a dangerous threat to any improved property.

Our friends at the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) recognize the danger of wildfires destroying rural homes and participate in the “Louisiana Firewise” program which educates homeowners and volunteer firefighters on how to make homes safer and more fire resistant. This link, http://www.ldaf.state.la.us/portal/Offices/Forestry/InformationEducationUrbanForestry/LouisianaFirewise/tabid/245/Default.aspx, discusses the need for vigilance by citizens to protect their property. There is also information on whom to contact on becoming “Firewise”.

Another source of information for protecting rural home is www.firewise.org.  This website provides online educational materials to aid homeowners, firefighters, and even educators in self-protection. The topics include which materials on a home are susceptible to fire and which are resistance. Another topic includes how to manage vegetation for a “defensible space” which will better ensure a structure’s survival from a wildfire.

After two years of record drought in southwest Louisiana,  homeowners need to examine their own vulnerability with respect to wildfire and to avail themselves of resources to help them and their property to survive a fire event.

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