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Arborist training focuses on reducing risk of wildfires

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February 22, 2023

BISMARCK, Arkansas – Certified arborists are training near Bismarck, Arkansas, this week to become instructors on reducing wildfire risk to homes, property, communities and natural areas.

Nineteen participants from the ISA Southern Chapter, ISA Midwestern Chapter, Arkansas Department of Agriculture – Forestry Division, Oklahoma Forestry Services and Mississippi Forestry Commission, as well as regional private arborists are participating in the course to become trainers of the Wildfire Risk Reduction Qualification.

The course was established by Texas A&M Forest Service in collaboration with the Texas Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISAT) in 2017. This week’s training is designed so that participants will leave qualified to teach the course to arborists in their areas and expand the program across the U.S. South. It is the fourth time this train-the-trainer course has been offered outside of Texas, developing approximately 50 new trainers.

The training was made possible through a USDA Forest Service grant.

Arborists hold a unique profession, as they have daily interaction with the public, they can help reduce wildfire risk while protecting natural landscapes and publicly managed property. The course provides wildland fire training to arborists to increase understanding of wildfire preparedness in urban communities.

“What is unique about this class is that we tailor it to be appropriate to the local area. We heavily factor in the local ecosystems and historical role fire played in those places,” said lead instructor Kari Hines, Texas A&M Forest Service. “Participants explore how wildfire moves through the landscape and what mitigation options they can perform or recommend to their clients.”

As Southern communities grow into the wildland urban interface  where the natural environment and communities meet  more residents of the South are at risk for wildfire.

“The South continues to experience rapid population growth, with more and more people moving into areas of moderate to extreme wildfire potential,” said Mark Goeller, Southern Group of State Foresters Chair and Oklahoma State Forester. “By leveraging field and community foresters, who already interact daily with residents and landowners, we can more effectively cultivate a safer, more fire-adapted population and infrastructure.”

Recent wildfire seasons have seen increasing property loss and death associated with wildfire. Research shows that the majority of homes ignite during a wildfire as a result of embers or small flames. There are steps that homeowners can take to reduce risk, with the most important efforts occurring on and immediately around the home. Homes can be made more fire resistant by maintaining and modifying vegetation in the landscape, and by addressing vulnerabilities of a home’s construction. These practices can be applied on an individual’s property or on a larger scale to protect a subdivision or community.

To learn more about Wildfire Risk Reduction Qualified arborists, visit

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