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The AGFC will host a series of free landowner workshops to teach people how to conduct prescribed burns this February and March.

The AGFC will host a series of free landowner workshops to teach people how to conduct prescribed burns this February and March.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists will host a series of free workshops to teach landowners how to increase wildlife habitat on their property using prescribed fire this February and March.

The workshops are part of the AGFC’s Private Lands Program, a special section of the AGFC Wildlife Management Division focused on helping landowners achieve their wildlife goals at the lowest possible cost.

“When done properly, introducing fire on the landscape is one of the best and most economical ways to promote new browse and herbaceous growth for wildlife,” said Ted Zawislak, AGFC Private Lands Program coordinator. “While a lot of landowners realize the value of burning, they tend to be a little afraid of prescribed fire. Our hope is to increase their comfort level with this practice.”

Northern bobwhite are one of the many species that benefit from the grasses and plants prescribed fire stimulates.

Northern bobwhite are one of the many species that benefit from the grasses and plants prescribed fire stimulates.

“In one Saturday, no landowner can be an expert,” Zawislak said. “But they can have a greater appreciation of the art and science behind prescribed fire. If they choose to hire a prescribed burn contractor to burn their property, they will be a more informed consumer.”

Prescribed fire is one of the least expensive and most efficient tools a landowner can use to increase wildlife habitat.

Prescribed fire is one of the least expensive and most efficient tools a landowner can use to increase wildlife habitat.

Prescribed burns are much different than the wildfires often seen in the news. In fact, many wildfires occur because of the absence of fire on the landscape. Leaves, limbs and other debris build up on the forest floor, creating abundant fuel for a catastrophic fire. Smaller fires at the right time of year eliminate this fuel load gradually and create clearings where seed-bearing grasses and leafy vegetation can grow and provide abundant food for wildlife.

Four six-hour workshops are scheduled during February and March. Space in each of these free workshops is limited to 30 participants, and registration is required at least one week before each workshop date. Lunch will be provided. Workshop locations and times are:

Contact Clint Johnson at 877-470-3650 or email clint.johnson@agfc.ar.gov for more information on these workshops and other Private Lands Program events.

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Landowners and agricultural producers interested in cost-share programs are invited to attend the Southeast Arkansas Agriculture and Wildlife Workshop in Lake Village. The workshop will deal with wildlife habitat, cover crops, water management and conservation practices that retain agricultural productivity.
Natural resource professionals with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Ducks Unlimited, Natural Resource Conservation Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will discuss wetland management, quail management, agricultural programs unique to the area, and other conservation programs offering financial incentives.
Michael Budd with the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program says the workshop is being held in hopes of creating more wildlife habitat, better management of existing habitat, create new habitat and to improve water quality. “We also want landowners to know what cost-share programs are available to them, how and why to enroll, and what they can expect long-term,” Budd said. “This is a great opportunity for landowners to meet the conservation professionals in the area who provide funding, technical assistance, and who can help landowners through each step of the process” he added.
According to David Long, Private Lands Coordinator with Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, many times farmers have croplands and other lands that are hard to farm or are low in productivity that they would like to figure out other income sources for these low yielding agricultural lands. “Most are not aware of the many state, federal and private programs that provide significant financial incentives and income opportunities to improve or create wildlife habitat on private property,” Long explained. “In addition, program changes occur regularly that normally result in better benefits for landowners and place new practices in the toolbox. Our workshop will cover all the programs available to assist landowners in conservation practices to improve fish and wildlife habitat and show them the money to improve their farm operations and many times increase cash flow.”
Salt intrusion in catfish ponds is causing production problems for many farmers, Long noted. “Many are looking at and enrolling in income producing programs such as found in the Wetland Reserve Program (pays up to $1,500 per acre for conservation easements and the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program which pays yearly rental payments (up to 15 years), $100 per acre up-front payments and other incentives. These programs will be covered in detail at the Feb. 1 workshop in Lake Village,” he said.
The workshop will be held on Feb. 1 at the Lake Village Fire Station #2, starting at 10 a.m. A free lunch will be provided following the session. For more information, and to RSVP by Jan. 25 to secure a seat and the lunch, please contact Sheila Pieroni at the Chicot County Conservation District at 870-265-5312, ext. 3.

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