Auburn School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences' forest fire management conducts a prescribed burn at the Kreher Preserve

With the news of devastating fires in California and other locations in the West, Auburn University faculty and Alabama Cooperative Extension System specialists hope to educate the public about the importance of prescribed fire in the Southeast.

For the first time, the Auburn University Kreher Preserve and Nature Center will host Fire on the Plains on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. This free, interactive, educational program will serve to educate people of all ages on how fire shapes the natural landscape of the forest.

Auburn School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences faculty and Extension specialists along with other noted fire ecology experts and representatives from the Alabama Forestry Commission will assist with prescribed fire demonstrations. Weather permitting, program attendees will be able to interact with the equipment used by foresters in prescribed burns and try their hand at burn techniques.

“Before the development in this part of Alabama occurred, this area would historically burn every one to four years, most-often during the growing season. Today, much of the landscape we see has not burned in several years or even decades,” said John Kush, Auburn research fellow and instructor. “We want to help the public to understand potentially devastating fires can be avoided with prescribed fire, while providing for healthier forests and improving aesthetics and wildlife habitat.”

Fun and educational activities about fire ecology will also take place in the longleaf pine ecosystem demonstration area including a children’s maze and pine seedling giveaways. The Auburn Fire Division and a fire truck will be available for children to explore and learn about fire safety.

Attendees will enjoy sitting by a campfire at the outdoor amphitheater and listening to music from the Fireside Pickers. Hot cocoa, coffee and s’mores kits will be available for purchase along with lunch items from Firetruck Bar-B-Que food truck.

The 120-acre preserve, located just north of Auburn at 2222 N. College St., features five miles of well-marked trails which traverse seven natural bird habitats including pine, oak/hickory, bottomland hardwood and mixed pine/hardwood. As part of the Saugahatchee Creek Watershed, a stream, pond, small waterfall and wetland areas are also found on the property.

The preserve is open to the public daily from sunrise to sunset. Also known formally as the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve, the facility was established in 1993 with a gift of land from Louise Kreher Turner and Frank Allen Turner to Auburn University and is operated by the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences as a not-for-profit outreach program.

More information about the event is available by contacting Jennifer Lolley at 334-844-8091 or via email at preserve@auburn.edu.

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