The Oklahoma Prescribed Burn Association (OPBA) handed out three awards on Monday, March 23.
The first award, “Carrying the Torch,” was presented to Harry Fritzler in honor of his 34 year career with the NRCS in Oklahoma. During his time with the NRCS, Harry wrote burn plans, assisted with numerous prescribed burns, trained NRCS staff as well as private landowners on use of prescribed fire, updated state standards for prescribed fire use, and updated the NRCS fire plan used for planning burns for landowners. He has also served on the Board of Directors for the Oklahoma Prescribed Burn Associations and played a role in training and forming new burn associations throughout Oklahoma.
The second award, “Friend of Fire,” was presented to the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. The Foundation has a web page dedicated to prescribed fire, and staff has written many articles on the subject. In addition, the Noble Foundation has hosted workshops and demonstration fires to teach proper use of prescribed fire. Areas burned in demonstration are used for tours and educational events so attendees can learn about fire’s effects on vegetation, land management, and wildlife habitat. The Noble Foundation has played a key role in the formation of the Oklahoma Prescribed Burn Association.
The third and final award, also a “Friend of Fire” award, was presented to the Oklahoma Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. The Conservancy’s fire program in Oklahoma maintains a focus on the use of prescribed fire to manage and conserve landscapes to promote long-term biodiversity. The Oklahoma Chapter owns or protects more than 90,000 acres across the state. In 2014 they burned over 21,000 acres–more than any other chapter in the nation. The Nature Conservancy made an initial investment in 2011 to help launch the Oklahoma Prescribed Burn Association.