Written by Dakota Wagner
Editor’s Note: This event was a part of the 2023 All About Pollinators! series, a blend of in-person and virtual opportunities to learn with the ForestHer NC community. This learn-and-burn was made possible thanks to a partnership with The Nature Conservancy. Funding provided by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Forest Service, US Department of Defense, International Paper, and Moore Charitable Foundation. Additional support provided by the Forest Stewards Guild and Roseburg Forest Products.
LighterWood Farm sits in the heart of the North Carolina Sandhills region, surrounded by forests of longleaf pine. Owned and managed by Jesse Wimberley and his family for generations, these forests historically supplied goods such as turpentine and tobacco. When Jesse took over, he chose to restore the longleaf pine forests and utilized fire to achieve this land management goal. Today, LighterWood Farm serves as a place for community to gather and learn about longleaf pine, native understory plants, wildlife, and prescribed fire.
The use of prescribed fire, or controlled burning, is a practice used by people across the Southeast in land management. In longleaf pine forests, fire is a critical management tool with many ecological benefits. Controlled burning also holds an important cultural significance. When neighbors, families, and friends conduct a controlled burn together, any disagreements or hard feelings are replaced by the shared goal of remaining safe on the fireline.
Jesse Wimberley is also the NC Sandhills Prescribed Burn Association (SPBA) coordinator. The SPBA is a grassroots community effort that welcomes landowners as well as citizens who desire to learn more about prescribed fire. The SPBA hosts workshops, field days, and mentorship programs for private landowners and others who wish to increase their comfort, capacity, and confidence to conduct prescribed burns. On May 4th, ForestHer NC partnered with the SPBA for a Learn and Burn at LighterWood Farm: a hands-on workshop focused on how to implement prescribed fire.
Learning About Burning Longleaf Pine in the NC Sandhills: A Photo Story
Getting ready! Carmella Stirrat (The Nature Conservancy), Jenn Fawcett (NCSU Extension Forestry), and Jesse Wimberley (SPBA) getting ready to welcome ForestHer NC participants. Photo by Angela Gaskell (SPBA).
Kicking it off: Jenn Fawcett (NCSU Extension Forestry) teaches about the importance of fire in the longleaf pine ecosystem. Photo by Dakota Wagner (Forest Stewards Guild).
Participants listening and learning. Photo by Angela Gaskell (SBPA).
Handing out tools and preparing to burn. Photo by Amanda Wilkins (NC Cooperative Extension, Lee County).
Starting the fire with the Burn Boss, Carmella Stirrat (The Nature Conservancy). Photo by Amanda Wilkins (NC Cooperative Extension).
Carrying the fire with Jenn Fawcett (NCSU Extension Forestry). Photo by Angela Gaskell (SPBA).
Lighting the line with SPBA mentor Terry Sharpe. Photo by Angela Gaskell (SPBA).
Keeping watch of the fire. Photo by Amanda Wilkins (NC Cooperative Extension).
Residents from Lee County representing. Photo from Amanda Wilkins (NC Cooperative Extension).
"Mopping up": making sure there is no active fire within 20 feet of the fire line before leaving the burn. Photo by Dakota Wagner (Forest Stewards Guild).
ForestHers traveled from as close as the neighboring property to as far as Henderson, NC to attend the Sandhills Learn-and-Burn. Photo by Angela Gaskell (SPBA).
The full moon rising over the longleaf pines as the event came to a close. Photo by Dakota Wagner (Forest Stewards Guild).
The Learn-and-Burn was a success! Women came from near and far to learn about prescribed fire and share in an afternoon of rewarding work. Participants asked questions, got their hands on tools and torches, witnessed the heat of the fire, and we achieved our burn objectives. A big thanks to the NC Sandhills Prescribed Burn Association for being great hosts and partners.