LBL officials: way to prevent wildfires is fire


Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Eric Allman

LYON COUNTY, Ky.---The best way to prevent wildfires is with fire. 
That might sound absurd, but managers at The Land Between The Lakes said the very thing they're trying to stop may also be the antidote.
This after a piece of farm equipment sparked a fire Saturday that took more than 6 hours to contain, and burned 250 acres of grass and woodlands at LBL. Rain helped get that fire under control but forestry officials are calling for more fire to keep the out-control-fires to a minimum.

They believe controlled or prescribed fire is the answer. Folks at LBL set thousands of acres on fire on purpose every year for a variety of reasons. But this year, they couldn't do as many prescribed fires as they wanted, and this could be one of the consequences.

Smokey Bear preached at us for years, but could forest fires actually be a good thing?  Nicole Hawk with The Land Between the Lakes said, yes.

"A lot of our native species need fire to survive and thrive," Hawk said.

The folks at LBL didn't get to do as many prescribed burns as they wanted because of this year's drought.

Some land was part of a controlled burn that took place about a month ago to get rid of fallen limbs and other debris.

"Even a few days after a prescribed burn new growth comes up and that's a good thing to see all this new growth come up," Hawk said.

The woods that caught fire was like this in that it hasn't been burned since  Winter Storm 09, lots of debris was left behind, and that serves as kindling and also makes it difficult for fire fighter to get through the woods and to the fire.

Hawk knows the 250 acres that went up in flames will quickly return to the way it was and hopes for more controlled fires in the future. 

"Fire is a natural part of this landscape," Hawk said.

This could've been much worse, turns out Smokey was right after all.

Hawk said two years ago forestry officials intentionally set 12 thousand acres on fire, but the last two years, because of extreme weather they were only able to set six thousand acres on fire each year.

Folks at LBL said controlled burns are not only safer than the one we had this weekend, but cheaper.  They said it costs about 12 to 20 bucks to burn one acre of woodland.