Kisatchie firefighters receives Browning Award

• Pineville LA.

The Kisatchie National Forest (KNF) is home to 25 professional firefighters. Many of these firefighters travel across the nation to battle wildfires, in addition to their work on the KNF that includes putting out wildfires and educating the community about the importance of wildfire prevention. One outstanding KNF firefighter, Mr. Steven Staples, was recently recognized by the US Forest Service for his dedication and perseverance in the area of wildfire prevention. Staples is the 2011 recipient of the Robert E. Browning, Jr. Award for excellence in fire prevention for the state of Louisiana.

Michael Dawson, Ranger for the Kisatchie District of the KNF located in Natchitoches parish, nominated Steven for this prestigious award. "Through Steven's diligent and persistent efforts we now have a way to manage fire in the Kisatchie Hills Wilderness that we did not have before," explained Dawson. For his innovation and dedication Staples has been honored with this award. Staples created new and positive working relationships with numerous private landowners through written agreements which allow the US Forest Service to conduct prescribed burns along the boundaries of the Kisatchie Hills Wilderness Area. Controlled burning in this area has resulted in reduced hazardous fuels, protecting private property, the public and firefighters.

Staples is a native of Oklahoma and has been a part of the US Forest service for 14 years. During his tenure Staples worked on the Oklahoma Ranger District of the Ouachita National Forest. He has been in Louisiana for the last 10 years working on the Calcasieu Ranger District, and the last three years on the Kisatchie District. "When Ranger Dawson told me I was receiving the Robert Browning, Jr. award I was surprised and I felt proud, I told him I was just doing my job. I didn't do it myself, the whole district helped."

The Robert Browning, Jr. award is in remembrance of a southern firefighter who lost his life on the 1994 South Canyon Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Browning was a native of South Carolina; he dedicated his life to wildland fire suppression. This award is dedicated in his memory to those who demonstrate distinguished service in wildland fire prevention.