A group of nine Quail Forever biologists joined Tall Timbers this spring for a class combining training standards used for national wildfire coordination with quail management and fire ecology.
The course delivers the National Wildland Fire Coordinating Group (NWCG) curriculum for Basic Wildland Firefighter in a hybrid fashion, utilizing the Tall Timbers Learning Portal for online components, then has students demonstrate what they learned during the live fire component of the class.
The NWCG training is necessary for those interested in participating in burns which include federal partners. Portions of the in-person training also introduced Tall Timbers’ unique approach to modern quail management.
The course grew out of a collaboration between Dr. Jess McGuire, the Working Lands for Wildlife and Quail Science coordinator for Quail Forever, Zach Prusak, a wildland fire training specialist with Tall Timbers and George Jensen, the Southwest Georgia Prescribed Burn Association coordinator for Tall Timbers.
Quail Forever is increasing its field staff to help support interest in recovering quail and other upland bird populations through habitat improvement programs funded through the federal Farm Bill.
Quail Forever’s interest in fire training with Tall Timbers is a testament to the importance of prescribed fire for quail management, as well as Tall Timbers’ unique role in both the fire training and quail management worlds.
Layered training focuses on getting more fire on the ground for quail management
In delivering this specialized blend of federal, state-specific, and ecological fire information to the Quail Forever biologists, Tall Timbers is piloting a new form of fire training with positive implications for private landowners and other non-federal fire managers across the nation.
The layered approach ultimately provides a more robust and relevant fire training experience for fire practitioners who manage non-federal lands for multiple benefits.
The new curriculum combines federal trainings with Tall Timbers’ diversity of expertise – including private lands prescribed fire, fire science and ecology, game bird management and geospatial tools.
“Partnering is key to the success of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Working Lands for Wildlife Northern Bobwhite, Grasslands, and Savannas framework that Quail Forever has been charged with implementing,” McGuire said. “A critical part of creating northern bobwhite habitat is getting more fire on the ground.”
The new course also provided a good test case for the continued development of training and education opportunities utilizing Tall Timbers’ layered approach to problem-solving.
Such education opportunities will continue to grow as we move forward with the planning and construction of the Leigh Perkins Conservation Education Center this year and next. This modern training and education facility will allow us to host up to 300 people and continue to fulfill our role as the epicenter for research and education on prescribed fire, land conservation, and wildlife management.
We are thankful to Quail Forever for coordinating with us on this fire training.