Seven months out of the year, large tracts of Fort Stewart training areas are intentionally set ablaze. The Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Forestry Branch works around the year to manage the largest forestry program in the Army – 139,000 acres of pine forest, 74,000 acres of forested wetlands, 58,300 acres of forest openings and 9,600 acres of hardwood management areas. Management of these lands result in improved training areas for the installation’s Soldiers, improved wildlife habits and a reduction of wildfire hazards.
From Dec. 1 through March 30, the Forestry Branch’s burn season, the focus is on clearing out combustible plants from the training areas with prescribed burns, also known as controlled burns.
“We’re putting fire on the ground under our terms,” said Bryan Whitmore, fire management supervisor at Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Forestry Branch. “For a wildfire, we don’t have control over the weather conditions. However, with prescribed burns, we dictate the behavior of the fire.”