BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) has announced a decrease in wildfires across the states in the last decade.
According to records from LDAF, firefighters battled 1,638 wildfires in 2008, and in 2018, firefighter fought 676 wildfires, showing a significant decrease.
“We believe there are multiple factors that have contributed to the significant decline in wildfire occurrence throughout Louisiana. While weather and forecast conditions continue to vary, our forestry division’s efforts are making a difference and reducing the number of destructive wildfires across our state,” said LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain.
LDAF says it has been using outreach programs to teach citizens about responsibly burning debris, prescribed burning, and using modern wildland fire detection techniques. LDAF says enforcement officers have also been aggressively pursuing arsonists and have conducted 150 investigations, resulting in 25 arrests in the last five years. LDAF says these arson cases account for 5,240 acres of burned land.
LDAF uses aerial surveillance to help locate and fight wildfires, which allows the department to monitor larger areas and provide support to crews on the ground. The department also uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) to help manage firefighting activities.
“The GPS and GIS assist us in plotting areas where fires are being set and are threatening people’s lives and properties,” Strain said.
LDAF also assists with firefighting efforts in other states, which provides LDAF employees with valuable experiences.
“We are changing the culture when it comes to protecting property from the threat of wildfires," Strain said.