Landowner Field Trip (LFT) Program Launches in Georgia

By LuAnn Craighton, Chattahoochee Fall Line Conservation Partnership Outreach Director/Partnership Coordinator, The Nature Conservancy 

The Chattahoochee Fall Line Rx Fire Co-Op (Co-Op) works with private landowners across west central Georgia to increase the awareness and use of prescribed fire as a beneficial land management tool. The Co-Op focuses on providing technical and financial assistance coupled with training to assist local landowners in getting their land burned to meet their management objectives.

RT Lumpkin works for the Georgia Forestry Commission and leads the Co-Op. He recently launched the Landowner Field Trip (LFT) “lift” Program. Participants register for the LFT program online and the registration process gathers information about what kind of prescribed fire the landowners would like to learn more about. For instance, a landowner might request to experience a growing season burn or a dormant season burn. Or perhaps observe a site prep burn or a burn in young longleaf. Many landowners have been eager to see land “like theirs” burned before attempting to burn the tracts they manage. A LFT experience and observing the ecological outcomes has encouraged several landowners to begin or expand prescribed burning on their own land.

white man with white beard stands in Nomex in front of a prescribed fire in longleaf
Mr. Dillard was one of the first landowners to participate in the LFT program. He visited a prescribed burn in longleaf pine and then with professional assistance initiated a first entry burn in longleaf on his land. (Credit, RT Lumpkin)

When a prescribed burn on local partner land matches the landowner’s interests, RT accompanies the landowner to the burn, spends time with them on site, and addresses the landowner’s questions in real time under real field conditions. Using a UTV, the landowner or a small group of landowners with similar interests can tour the tract with their host and safely experience live prescribed fire, talk to private, state and federal fire practitioners who are working the burn, and get in-depth answers to specific questions they have about prescribed fire. The focus of the LFT program is to visit sites where an active prescribed fire is underway, observe sites that have been recently burned to see fire effects, or see management practices on different properties. The program is customized to match the skills and interests of the participating landowners and provides some scheduling flexibility to accommodate the time constraints of busy landowners. For more information on the LFT Program contract rlumpkin@gfc.state.ga.us or visit https://gatrees.org/fire-prevention-suppression/cflrxfirecoop/