The special version of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s online Prescribed Burn School is now available for employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service at Texas A&M AgriLife Learn.

A man in a green ranger observes a prescribed burn in a dry pasture. A fire line is behind him with smoke filling the sky.
An online prescribed burn program for Natural Resources Conservation Service employees is now offered through AgriLife Learn. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Morgan Treadwell)

The NRCS Prescribed Burn School places an emphasis on fire behavior, employing the correct firing technique, equipment and safety.

“This is a separate version of the Prescribed Burn School specifically for USDA-NRCS employees,” said course instructor Morgan Treadwell. Ph.D., AgriLife Extension rangeland specialist, San Angelo. “The new course contains all of the original information, plus a module about NRCS policy.”

There is no cost to attend but attendance is limited to NRCS employees and participants must register at https://tx.ag/NRCSBurnSchool.

Treadwell said after successful completion of the course, participants will fulfill the requirements for the initial awareness-level certification found in Title 190-General Manual, which is the minimal level of authority for an NRCS employee to offer prescribed burning as an alternative practice in the conservation planning process.

“Upon completion, participants will also be able to write prescribed burn plans, which will need to be reviewed and approved by an NRCS employee with the appropriate level of job approval authority,” she said.

A certificate of completion will also be provided.

Burn topics covered

Within each of the course modules, there is an introductory video providing an overview of the module, followed by webpages with valuable information. Modules also may contain other handouts that further explore the information, Treadwell said. 

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Explain the history of fire as an ecological tool.
  • Evaluate fuels present across many environments according to their defining characteristics.
  • Describe fire behavior according to physical and chemical principles.
  • Prepare for weather conditions as they relate to burning.
  • Discuss the impact topographic influences have on fire behavior.
  • Analyze the effect that fire has on plant communities and wildlife habitat.
  • Plan a prescribed burn.
  • Identify proper burning equipment and safety techniques.
  • Employ proper firing techniques according to the prescribed burn goals and objectives.
  • Mitigate smoke impacts.
  • Understand laws and regulations regarding prescribed burning.
  • Evaluate potential burn sites.
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