Tune in: These prescribed fire-centric podcasts are worth a listen

Aug 14, 2023

From quail and prescribed fire to land conservation and long-term research, Tall Timbers staffers have a lot to say.

Many have appeared on podcasts to relay their expertise in highly-specialized fields, but knowing where to find those episodes can be tough in the sea of content out there.

We’ve done the hard work of finding and pulling together some of our best podcast episodes featuring Tall Timbers staff.

Take an audible trip through the ongoing research into fire and forest health with some of our top researchers, the work going into securing and maintaining conservation easements through the Tall Timbers Land Conservancy and efforts in bolstering the next generation of prescribed fire practitioners.

As with all things Tall Timbers, much of the discussions revolve around the frequent use of prescribed fire to maintain the landscape, encourage plant and animal biodiversity and store soil carbon.

Planning and advocating for fire and land conservation

Neil Fleckenstein joins Institute for County Government Executive Director, Eric Poole on County Conversations.

Fleckenstein, Tall Timbers’ Planning and Advocacy Coordinator, gives an elevator pitch overview of the history and mission of Tall Timbers, a look back at the impetus of the Land Conservancy in the 1990s and the challenges of balancing green conservation with grey growth at the local planning agency level.


Land use and ecosystem services

Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Program Director Kevin Robertson, PhD. joins University of Florida professor Marcus Lashley, PhD, on the Fire University podcast to discuss the restoration of agricultural landscapes back to pine savannah and the ecosystem service — benefit to humans — that is serves.

Traditional forests across the southeast, longleaf and shortleaf pine savannahs, have been converted into row-crop agriculture, development or high-intensity pine plantation dedicated to providing wood products.

But what happens when land previously used for agriculture is frequently burned and reverts to old-field pine savanna landscapes, some as old as 100 years? That is the focus of Robertson’s research and discussion with Lashley.


The next generation of fire practitioners

Wildland Fire Training Specialist Zach Prusak joins Donald Forgione on Tailgate Talks to discuss the progression of the use of prescribed fire, where its use came from and how Tall Timbers is helping to shape where it’s going.

Prusak’s program, the Private Lands Prescribed Fire Initiative, works to train private land fire practitioners but his take is that getting more people involved safely is more about being a mentor.

He walks through the steps to meticulously plan a burn and delves into the tough call to cancel one due to weather, and supporting the introduction of new people to controlled burns, all a key part of being a responsible prescribed fire practitioner.


Prescribed fire and tree health

What affect does burning pine forests outside of the normal growing season fire have on pine tree health? Tall Timbers’ Director of Research Morgan Varner PhD, joins University of Florida professor Marcus Lashley, PhD, on the Fire University to delve into his work in tree mortality and the diverse functions and habits of prescribed fire and how, when, or how often, you burn is just as important as where you burn.

Varner is joined by John Willis, Forest Researcher with the U.S. Forest Service, to discuss his study on seasonality of fire and tree mortality.


The growing technology of prescribed fire

Varner, Robertson and Lashley are joined by Kevin Heirs, former Tall Timbers Wildland Fire Scientist, to delve into Tall Timbers history as the birthplace of fire ecology and home of modern prescribed fire.

The use of prescribed fire as a habitat management and wildfire prevention tool has spread to 300,000-plus acres and the need to get more fire on the ground grows each year.

Training, education, on-the-ground work and sometimes a conversation at a picnic can be the spark that leads to the next fire ecologist leading the next generation of prescribed fire practitioners.

The discussion revolves around the widespread use of fire and its surrounding culture, how its evolved and how that evolution is incorporating more technology to advance its use into the future on a global scale.


Careers in fire

Prusak joins Cully Lord on “A Step Beyond the Fire Podcast” to discuss the varied careers that surround the world of prescribed fire and the people who are key to making sure it continues to be utilized.

There’s no one answer and the list of fire-related careers – ecology, mapping, archeology, sociology, advocacy, grant writing – is endless.


All things quail with Clay Sisson

Tall Timbers’ Albany Quail Project Director Clay Sisson joins founder of the Texas-based Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch Dale Rollins, AKA “Dr. Dale.”

Sisson details how he got his start in quail research and conservation, the expansion of quail research done over the last 30 years and his work with landowners in the Red Hills, Albany and Alabama to intensively manage for quail with Tall Timbers.

At the heart of that management is the regular use of prescribed fire on an annual basis to maintain premier quail habitat.


If you enjoy podcasts and have a favorite program or episode that we should check out, please let us know.

About the Author
Karl Etters
A Tallahassee native, Karl has a background in journalism and an even deeper background in exploring North Florida's wild spaces. Merge the two, and he's Tall Timbers' communication coordinator. When he's not spending time with family and friends, he can be found fly fishing, hunting, biking or walking the woods looking for turkeys.
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