RALEIGH, N.C. (September 27, 2011) – Members of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Sandhills Game Land Management Team have been presented the first ever Division of Wildlife Management Prescribed Burning Award. The award was presented at the annual meeting of the North Carolina Prescribed Fire Council.
The award was given by the Commission’s Division of Wildlife Management to honor the Sandhills Crew’s contributions in the implementation and promotion of prescribed fire as a natural resource management tool. Crew members include Bill Parsons, Chris Jordon, Lee Criscoe, Rupert Medford, Jake Marquess, Brian Smith, Michael Huffman, Brady Beck, Lincoln Sadler, Doug Dawkins, Jimmy Richardson, Dakota Hunter and Justin Tuttle.
Through prescribed fire, the crew have improved and helped restore the habitat of numerous species of ground nesting birds, fox squirrels, rare amphibians and reptiles, as well as plants and habitats. In many cases, each species requires its own fire prescription in order to thrive. The crew has also helped contribute, through burning, to the recovery of the Sandhills population of the red-cockaded woodpecker.
The Sandhills crew has encountered multiple obstacles to prescribed fire, including the the presence of multiple rare species, like the gopher frog and red-cockaded woodpecker. In addition, the site is more than 62,000 acres and close to smoke sensitive areas, such as military installations. The game land crew has had to overcome these and other obstacles, including unique habitat and plant communities, by developing extensive knowledge of fire. The crew partners with other work units, both inside and outside the Commission, to increase understanding of fire effects on sensitive species and habitats, and increase capacity. The staff has also worked with the N.C. Forest Service to discuss strategies for combating wildfires and minimizing negative impacts to habitats.
As a result, the Sandhills Game Land has become a premiere destination for researchers studying the effects of fire on wildlife species and restoration of rare and endangered plant and animal communities.
For additional information on prescribed burns, download “Using Fire to Improve Wildlife Habitat,” from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension. For more information on the Wildlife Resources Commission, visit www.ncwildlife.org.