Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityHow Georgia prevents the devastating wildfires seen out West | WGXA
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How Georgia prevents the devastating wildfires seen out West

Matt Mackie (WGXA)
Matt Mackie (WGXA)
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MACON, Ga. -- Wildfires rarely devastate the Southeast like they can for western states like California, so WGXA sat down with Georgia forest officials to find out why.

Ken Parker is just one of the people in charge of managing Georgia's forests, and says that climate, drought, and the way forests are managed can play a big role in whether or not wildfires happen.

Georgia leads the nation in prescribed, or controlled, burns. By setting small, controlled fires now, we're burning off excess brush and preventing deadly blazes down the road.

"Prescribed fire is the number one tool for managing forests. It's the most economical tool that they have, and one of the easiest tools to use if done properly," Parker, who manages controlled burns for the Georgia Forestry Commission, says.

Georgia makes it easy to get permits and conduct burns.

"When a landowner calls in to get a burn permit, we're trying to give them from the time that they answer the phone to the time that they get the burn permit about five minutes," says Parker.

Here in Georgia, where most land is privately owned, a permit is all you need. Out west though, it's a different story.

"California and many western states are more federally owned properties, and thus have more restrictions on them," says Parker.

Not only is it more difficult to manage those federal forests, but people just aren't as used to prescribed burns.`

"Prescribed fires, or burning off of the under story has always been a part of the southern culture, all the way going back to Native Americans burning off for travel or wildlife, versus other parts of the country who have not had a lot of fire. There's a large difference right there," says Parker.

WGXA also wants to remind Middle Georgians that if you're planning on burning any of your ward waste, it will be illegal in these 14 midstate counties starting on May 1: Jasper, Putnam, Butts, Lamar, Monroe, Jones, Bibb, Upson, Crawford, Peach, Houston, and Twiggs.

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Georgia's annual summer burn ban is in effect from May 1 - September 30, and it's designed to cut back on air pollution in Middle Georgia's densely populated areas. The ban does not include cooking fires or campfires.

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