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Burning in Blaze Orange

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Growing up with Disney has led me to connect wildlife and fire with the image of a terrified Bambi running from an uncontrollable blaze. But, as is clearly demonstrated by the Noble Research Institute's use of prescribed burns, fire can be incredibly beneficial for the land, wildlife and agriculture.

So the happy news is that fires, when controlled, are good for Bambi and all his furry friends. They can be used to manage vegetation, combating undesirable plants and providing excellent growing conditions for those plants with high wildlife value. I had the pleasure of participating in this management practice last Thursday as we burned 5 acres at Coffey Ranch for the Summer Burn Workshop.

hope in burn suit

As we got suited-up for the burn, my plastic knee brace, which I have to wear on my post-ACL surgery knee, called for interesting burn attire. Since women's pants are rarely designed to be worn while setting a field on fire while also wearing a knee brace, I was outfitted in a blaze orange jumpsuit. I looked like an escaped convict. Once they handed me the drip torch and let me go to work, I looked like an escaped convict committing arson ... so happy this job is turning me into such an upstanding citizen!

Hope Wentzel is a 2013 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture from Alexandria, Va.

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