LITTLE ROCK – Landowners can learn proper and safe use of prescribed fire for improving wildlife habitat through a series of free workshops sponsored by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Private Lands Section.

Four workshops are planned, beginning with two on March 11 at Hatfield (Polk County) and Batesville. A third workshop is set for March 18 in Fort Smith and the final workshop is April 8 in Clinton.

According to Ted Zawislak, AGFC statewide private lands supervisor, fire is the most cost-effective method for restoring and maintaining upland habitats. Properly managed habitat using proper burning methods can increase available high-quality food and cover for game animals at a level twice that of planting food plots and a much-reduced cost.

Throughout human history, fire was used to shape the landscape. Upland forests and fields in Arkansas have a long history with fire. American Indians used fire to maintain prairies and reduce overgrowth.

A decades-long advertising push for the prevention of catastrophic wildfires created a misunderstanding among much of the general population about fire’s positive uses. However, fire is still a driving force for improving wildlife habitat by encouraging germination of beneficial plants, controlling undesirable plants and opening forests to allow growth of grasses in the understory. Deer, turkey, quail and many nongame species benefit from and thrive on habitats maintained by fire. Frequent, small-scale, controlled fires also reduce the risk of those catastrophic wildfires by reducing the amount of fuel available to burn.

"We strongly believe in the benefits properly used fire can have on our wildlife and want to train landowners in its use," Zawislak said. "These workshops are available to all who are interested in learning about using prescribed fire on private property.

The workshop is intended to educate participants about the benefits and mechanics of prescribed burning, allow them to communicate with and hire professionals to burn their property, and begin the training process for landowners to conduct burning themselves." The workshops will cover planning, fire strategy and equipment, fire weather, property safety considerations, Arkansas fire laws and more to provide landowners with the necessary tools needed to use fire on small areas of their property.

For more information, contact Clint Johnson at or call (877) 470-3650. The workshops are made possible through partnerships with the Arkansas Forestry Association, The Nature Conservancy and the Arkansas Forestry Commission.

Visit the following links to enroll at the workshop of your choosing:

• March 11: Hatfield, register at

• March 11: Batesville, register at

• March 18: Fort Smith, register at

• April 8 and April 10: Clinton, register at