Announcing the Triangle Prescribed Burn Association

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By: Hope Horton, TPBA Chair

Community members from around the Triangle area came together at the Common Ground Ecovillage for the Triangle PBAs first organizational meeting on 12/9/2023

North Carolina boasts PBAs in 52 of 100 counties across the state ringing the west, south, and eastern regions. But there has been a big hole in the doughnut surrounding the Triangle Area. Not anymore! Mart Bumgarner, Orange County Agricultural Extension Agent, is assisting the community to establish a PBA covering five counties in the central Piedmont. Orange, Alamance, Durham, Chatham, and Person counties have signed on to this initiative to give landowners the tools to help themselves and others to gain the benefits of prescribed burning on their properties.

Objectives for a Prescribed (RX) Burn may include one or more of the following goals…

  • Improve forest health
  • Increase habitat for wildlife
  • Control undergrowth/reduce invasive species of plants
  • Reduces fuel loads in the forest thus reducing forest fire potential
  • Aid tree propagation (e.g. Longleaf Pine)
  • Opens the understory for wildlife

A man teaches a group in a forest.The Triangle Prescribed Burn Association (TPBA) kick-off meeting happened on December 9th at Common Ground Ecovillage (CGEV) in northwest Orange County. Twenty-two people from several counties came together to learn about the benefits of controlled fire. CGEV’s 112 acres of forests and meadows are a prime site for prescribed burn. Mart led the group on a walk through one of the CGEV wooded areas that was clear-cut in the late 90’s and in need of fire to reduce fuels and improve forest health and habitat. He showed how to prepare the site for a late winter burn by establishing firebreaks and hand lines, taking down ‘snags’ (trees that are dead and pose a potential hazard during a RX Burn), and removing some fallen logs close to the edges.

Two people stand in front of a Prescribed Fire trailer.The event concluded with a practice burn. Orange County Forest Service Rangers Renee Brown and AK Kelly brought their water truck and a Prescribed (RX) Burn Trailer that can be borrowed by PBAs when they conduct a RX fire. The trailer was used to demonstrate and provide equipment needed to give attendees an experience working with the real thing. Forestry Extension Agent Elliot Nauert prepared a meadow with patches of pine straw and demonstrated how a driptorch works. Several participants laid down fire in dots or strips and watched the fire spread on the pine straw. It was a great way to end the day!

A person uses a prescribed fire tool A small learning fire.

It’s essential now to equip members of the TPBA with the knowledge and tools needed to carry out the mission of this organization. Next steps include a full-day training in Prescribed Burn with Nathan Gatlin, Extension Forestry Area Agent on Saturday, January 13th. Nathan will be teaching in the morning and, if conditions are right, he’ll supervise a burn in a small meadow at CGEV in the afternoon. On February 1st, there will be a class to teach members how to safely use chainsaws with a concentration for removing snags.

Thanks to the expertise, support and generosity of many Extension Agents who care about establishing PBAs, the TPBA is off to a great start! If you are a landowner, want to learn more about RX fire or want to help out we welcome you to join the Triangle Prescribed Burn Association contact Mart Bumgarner at mart_bumgarner@ncsu.edu.