Program helps manage habitat with fire

GRUCHY

GRUCHY

By Kevin Tate

Outdoors Writer

Landowners in four north Mississippi counties have until Oct. 15 to apply for a cost-share program designed to help with prescribed burning.

Acreage in Monroe, Lowndes, Noxubee and Prentiss Counties is eligible, and the program pays up to 50 percent of associated burning costs. Land in Amite, Marion, Lamar and Pearl Counties in the southern part of the state is eligible as well.

The program targets habitat of the type traditionally found in the black belt prairie grasslands in the northern part of the state, and the longleaf pine habitat found in the south. Land need not fit those habitats at the moment to qualify, however, as habitat restoration is one of the effort’s major goals. Those goals can only be attained by demonstrating what the habitat once was, either reminding land owners or showing them for the first time, said John Gruchy, wildlife biologist with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

The decline or disappearance of bobwhite quail from land that currently lies in much the same state it always has, Gruchy says, is an example of why regular burning is important.

“I hope in my lifetime we can implement the measures required to bring back the bobwhite quail,” Gruchy said.

He said reintroducing yearly burning to the countryside is a critical step in that direction.

To apply, contact Gruchy at johng@mdwfp.state.ms.us or call 601-432-2199.