Did you know there’s a camp where teens get to fight fire? Not a scary western wildfire, but a well-behaved one that actually improves the environment?
Last summer, a group of teenagers at Camp Woods & Wildlife learned firsthand how to manage a prescribed fire. These intrepid campers donned fire-retardant gear and set about preparing for a small understory burn.
First, they raked a fire line down to bare soil to keep the fire contained. Then, under the watchful eyes of Virginia Department of Forestry personnel, they used a drip torch to light the forest duff. The June humidity kept the fire low, but campers were prepared with backpack tanks in case of any flare-ups.
The campers learned that managed fire cuts down the amount of dry “fuel” on the forest floor, thus reducing the chances of an uncontrolled wildfire later. Many mature trees are tolerant of low-intensity prescribed fire, and they benefit from reduced competition when the fire kills smaller woody vegetation. Fire can even improve wildlife habitat by creating growing conditions for plants that provide food and cover.
Teens who want to experience real-world environmental practices like prescribed fire are invited to attend this year’s Camp Woods & Wildlife, scheduled for June 22-27, 2020 at Holiday Lake 4-H Center. The camp is open to any Virginia resident aged 13-16 with an interest in natural resources who has not attended before. Any non-related adult can nominate a camper.
Check out www.dof.virginia.gov/forestry/camp for more Information.