CHIPLEY, Fla. (WMBB) — Private landowners joined FWC, The Florida Forest Service and Tall Timbers, a research institute in Tallahassee, for a first of its kind workshop Wednesday.

The workshop was a follow up to a prescribed burning class. Participants learned techniques for prescribed burning and got hands-on experience.

“It’s not hard to learn, but you have to experience it. I wouldn’t say you could learn everything from a book,” Michael Klassen, a senior forester in Washington County, said. “I’m a teacher at heart, but I love experiencing fire and showing fire to other people because it’s such an integral part of our ecosystem.”

Klassen says prescribed fire reduces hazardous fuels, enhances the ground for wildlife and improves tree health.

“Florida has fire adapted ecosystems, so we want good fire and not bad fire. If we can teach people about fire and prescribed burning, that only helps us because we don’t have to go back out and put out wildfires and things like that,” Klassen explained.

Charles Grant owns property in Washington County but lives in Georgia. He traveled six hours to attend the workshop and also attended the class.

“I think it’s important for us land owners to understand the principles and practices associated with burning forest so that I don’t burn someone else’s forest for them,” Grant said. “Here doing the practical exercises is where the rubber meets the road so to speak and you learn how to do this.”

A second class is scheduled for February 18 at Gum Creek Lodge in Baker. Registration begins at 8 a.m., and the class will go from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lunch will be provided and preregistration is required.

For more information or to preregister, contact Don Buchanan at or call 850-381-3522

Klassen hopes to bring similar workshops to our area in the future.