Poarch Creek Tribe reintroducing fire to the land

Mar 10, 2023

The more I learn about fire and the ecology of the Southeast, the more I think about the depth of the connections between beneficial fire and people in the Southeast.

In late February, several Tall Timbers staff members had the humbling opportunity to apply prescribed fire with our friends from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.  The Poarch Creek are descendants of a segment of the original Creek Nation that once covered almost all of Alabama and Georgia. The Tribe’s reservation is eight miles northwest of Atmore, Alabama, in rural Escambia County.

This was our third opportunity to assist the Poarch Creek Tribe with prescribed fire training and support. Tribal members have generously shared their connections to fire and traditional ecological knowledge.

Kelvin Daniels and John Goff from Alabama Forestry Commission joined us to demonstrate the IGNIS drone-based prescribed fire ignition system. The mix of high-tech and ancient practices felt appropriate for the Poarch Creek people, who have intentionally fought hard to preserve their proud heritage while moving forward into the mainstream of today’s modern society.

John McGuire, the Tall Timbers Private Lands Prescribed Fire Initiative director, and George Jensen, the Southwest Georgia Prescribed Burn Association Coordinator, both participated and provided additional instruction on fire behavior and ignition planning.

James Agerton and his superb Land Management team comprised of Marine and Army Veteran Jason Stephens, Army Veteran Charles “Bo” Bray, Mr. Ronnie Rolin, John Sells, and Timmy Bailey continue to strive hard to make their tribal lands the best in the country.  We can’t thank this team enough for their overall friendship and dedication to helping manage the landscape.

Together, we developed a burn plan to continue expanding prescribed fire use on the diverse landscape of the Poarch Creek Indians. As a result, we treated over 800 acres in just two days with ideal weather for final dormant season burns.

The saying is true, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I’m thrilled to have chosen a path in prescribed fire after I retired from the United States Marine Corps. I continue to discover connections and meaning as I do my part to expand the safe use of prescribed fire.

About the Author
Lee Stuckey
As Tall Timbers’ Central Alabama Prescribed Burn Association Coordinator, Lee travels his region connecting with landowners and spreading the “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” approach to expanding prescribed fire use on private lands. Lee joined Tall Timbers after retiring from the United States Marine Corps and remains active in programs supporting veterans.
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