04/01/2012
Fort Benning according to the Bayonet
Controlled burns conducted at Fort Benning
The Environmental Management Division's Land Management Branch is using controlled burns to maintain pine forest and control understory vegetation growth according to the Bayonet. Endangered species are also managed by protecting such animals as the red cockaded woodpecker and their habitats. Lead forester Stephen Hudson noted, "Burning is a key tool to all of it. With our burn schedule, we try to do the installation landscape and spread the fuel loads around all of Fort Benning. That's our main objective. Let's not wait for these massive wildfire events. Let's be proactive". Prior to beginning the controlled burns, Fort Benning experienced more than 600 wildfires a year which led to asset being lost. The controlled burns have reduced that amount to about 100 a year.
Hudson continued, "We really changed the threshold. We've put smoke and fire management in our hands. We use prevailing winds and weather to our advantage rather than having to face an uncontrolled situation with fire. Fort Benning is going to burn, whether it is controlled or not. By proactively managing fires and fuel loads with prescribed burning, it's a win-win for our neighbors and Fort Benning". The installation's 30,000 acres of training areas are burned once every two to three years. Most of the controlled burns are conducted between December and May. Hudson added, "We average about 65 burn days a year, and we have a lot to accomplish. These fires promote a healthy ecosystem and healthy forests. It also facilitates and complements Fort Benning's mission...They work real well in sustain our training lands."