By Logan Jones, Habitat Program Specialist
Birds Georgia has a new tool in their toolbox. Recently, members of the Birds Georgia conservation team—consisting of Sebastian Hagan, Sarah Tolve, and Logan Jones—underwent comprehensive fire training led by the IBT (Interagency Burn Team) at Hard Labor Creek State Park.
This particular training, encompassed a pack test, online coursework, and physical training, and was designed to equip participants with an FFT2 certification (wildland firefighter type II) that aligns seamlessly with Birds Georgia’s commitment to ecological restoration.
The IBT is an agreement between private, state, and federal partners that are focused on burning to help rare wildlife. Some of the IBT organizations include the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), The Orianne Society, The Longleaf Alliance, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, Tall Timbers, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Forest Service, and The Georgia Forestry Commission. Many of these organizations also sent staff to join in training and to lead activities such as fire shelter deployment, burn plan management, pacing and orienteering, pumps, engines, hoses, and so much more.
The recent training not only strengthened staff expertise but also solidified Birds Georgia’s desire to actively engage in prescribed fires in partnership with IBT. Our goal is to align Birds Georgia’s conservation efforts with burning whenever feasible, recognizing the ecological benefits it brings to our landscapes.
Prescribed fires have been proven to be instrumental in fostering early successional songbird habitat. Strategic burns create open spaces and clearings that are conducive to the growth of native vegetation, providing crucial nesting sites and foraging opportunities for early successional songbirds. These intentional fires mimic natural ignition processes, promoting biodiversity and maintaining the balance of ecosystems. Furthermore, prescribed fires help reduce the accumulation of dense vegetation, which can otherwise hinder the growth of native plants and limit the availability of suitable habitats for songbirds. By restoring a more open and diverse landscape through controlled burns, Birds Georgia is able to enhance the overall health of the ecosystem and create conditions that are particularly favorable for the flourishing of early successional bird populations.
As we look ahead, Birds Georgia conservation staff are eager to employ their new certifications by contributing to prescribed burns in collaboration with the IBT. This new certification better positions our staff to support organizations across the state that conduct burns, including our partners at the DNR. In recent years, Birds Georgia has been collaborating with DNR to restore bird habitat at Panola Mountain State Park, including a restoration meadow that would benefit from a prescribed fire treatment in the coming year.
Stay tuned for updates as Birds Georgia continues to work with partners to foster and improve healthy ecosystems through informed and strategic fire management practices. Together, Birds Georgia aims to kindle positive change and preserve the ecological balance of our landscapes for birds and future generations.
Birds Georgia is building places where birds and people thrive.