De Soto National Forest gets first prescribed burn in Harrison Co. since 2019

For the first time in four years, Rangers carry out a prescribed burn in one of Mississippi's largest forests to prevent natural disasters.
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 6:34 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HARRISON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) -The U.S. Forest Service carried out a prescribed burn in De Soto National Forest Tuesday. The burn was performed to prevent natural disasters as well as enhance longleaf pine restoration and improve wildlife habitat.

Rangers burned more than 400 acres. It’s the first burn in this particular section of Harrison County since 2019.

Bert Rager, a service officer, said it feels good to come back for another chance to protect wildlife.

“I feel great about it,” Rager said. “It’s good for nature in general and it’s definitely good for people.”

This area is defined by a mixed-age ecosystem. Assistant Fire Management Officer Mark Jamieson said it’s very beneficial.

“Every ecosystem needs a little fire from now and then,” Jamieson said. “Fire is a natural part of our ecosystem for all the southern forests. Most of the forest land in the United States is fire-dependent, some way or another.”

Longleaf pine covers an estimated 40,000 acres in Southern Mississippi. It’s the habitat for wildlife, some of which only live in this kind of forest.

One of the first responders’ goals is to prevent wildfires in the area. Jamieson said fires like these will keep wildlife and people in surrounding communities safe.

“A wildfire can’t get going here,” he said. “We’ve had wildfires down this road before. It may not look like homes right here but just half a mile that way and all directions there are homes. Since we’re south of Highway 67 and east of Highway 49, you know how many homes there are in that area.”

Rager said he thinks these flames will be a big factor in hazardous fuel reduction.

“It’ll let the native grasses come back so overall it’s a great thing,” he said.

Want more WLOX news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.