EXTERIOR: Workshop offers certification for using prescribed burning as a management tool | Sports

Guys like to play with fire. I know this from years of observation and many personal experiences. I helped build brush piles almost as big as a barn, and on at least one occasion burned down an old barn that looked more like a brush pile.

The desire to fan flames can be traced back to caveman ancestry, and I know I’ve been willing to fan a fire from a young age. I remember very well that my uncles had warned me that I risked wetting my bed by playing with fire. I also remember that it barely deterred me.

These days I can hardly sit around a campfire without looking for ways to rearrange the logs and embers to generate more heat or flames. To me, finding the perfect spot for the next piece of firewood is an art form or a modern marvel of structural engineering.

Fortunately, I have never been involved in a fire that got out of control, but I have personally seen the devastation a wildfire can wreak. Two different farms where I hunted were scorched by fires about 20 years ago, though those incidents had nothing to do with the destruction seen in California, Colorado and elsewhere in recent years.

While the scars from the fires we experienced two decades ago still lie in the woods, the blackened forests have recovered and actually benefited from the fire. Every year we use fire as a tactic to manage native grass growth in the largest agricultural field. None of us have formal training for this, but certification is available.

The State Department of Conservation is planning several upcoming workshops in the St. Louis area offering training in the proper use of prescribed burning for land management. The program in Jefferson County is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, March 18 at the USDA Service Center, 10820 Hwy. 21 in Hillsboro. Online registration is required at short.mdc.mo.gov/4ZC.

Fire can be a tool to control growth in grasslands, glades, meadows, and woods. Workshop participants will learn how to use fire safely to benefit natural habitats.

Prescribed Burn Certification consists of an online training program that can be completed at the participant’s own pace, but must be completed prior to attending the field event in person. After registration for the field portion, information will be sent on how to complete the required online portion of the training.

The Workshops Field Event parts are all scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and each has its own registration link. Additional regional sessions are scheduled for Lincoln County on Wednesday, February 23; in Franklin County, Friday, February 25; and in Crawford and Warren counties on Friday, April 1.

The workshops are free for private owners but cost $25 for contractors. Prior online registration is required. Upon successful completion of field events, participants receive permanent certification.

I’m sure there’s nothing in the program that deals with the other farm fire application. We always pack the bins, but over time we have had to get rid of old furniture or other flammable materials. The cabin fire ring burned a variety of items, from dresser drawers to dog houses. An old sofa awaits its turn on the burning pile when weather conditions are favorable and a sufficient number of responsible adults are available to control the fire.

John Winkelman is director of marketing for Liguori Publications near Barnhart, Mo., and associate editor for Outdoor Guide Magazine. If you have story ideas to share for Leader’s outside news page, email [email protected], and you’ll find more outside news and updates at johnjwink.com.

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