For local foresters, late spring and summertime months bring a down period for concerns about Tennessee wildfires, but it doesn’t mean their work stops.
Forester Jim Dale said the summertime provides forestry employees a chance to travel across the country to serve on incident management teams.
“People who go on federal assignments to other parts of the country, we are actually taking our vacation time to do that,” Dale said. “It’s not like the taxpayers of Tennessee are being cheated because we are gone. When we go on a southeastern compact-type assignment we actually go as state employees.”
Forestry workers take sate equipment when responding to wildfires out West and the host agency will reimburse the state, Dale said.
“It works out very good for the state of Tennessee,” he said.
In late April, Tennessee’s drought index had bottomed out and Dale said many state forestry employees traveled to Texas and Oklahoma to assists with a wildfire that broke out due to dry and windy conditions.
“Our people will be stationed with pumper units as well as doziers,” Dale said. “They will also help do line construction and help take care of hot spots.”
Dale said there is also plenty of work to do in Tennessee during the down period.
“We have plenty of work to do during the summertime here in the state,” Dale said. “we’re into insect and disease control and a lot of fire oriented work as well.”
The Tennessee Division of Forestry extinguishes more than 2,500 fires that burn each year and helps control the disease and insect pests that plague our forests.