I wrote about this topic earlier, but I have seen lots of burning going on. Lots of smoke out there....it's that time of the year again! I decided to repost. Prescribed burning is one of the most effective and cheapest tool available to the land owner. Thanks to “Smokey The Bear” many have shied away from the practice. Therefore I decided to address this important topic.
Let’s start with a definition - "Prescribed" burning is defined as fire applied in a knowledgeable manner to forest fuels on a specific land area under selected weather conditions to accomplish predetermined, well-defined management objectives.
Reduction of Hazardous Fuels - Prescribed burning removes accumulated fuels and therefore the risk of intense fires. Arson, human carelessness, and lightning will inevitably ignite fires in many states across the nation. The rate of spread and damage caused by the resulting fires are directly related to fuel types and volumes. Fire intensity is much lower in grasses and small shrubs than in a 10-year-old growth of saw palmetto and wax myrtle. Manu fuels have high levels of resins. Prescribed burning must be repeated at regular intervals to maintain the protective effect of reduced vegetative fuels. In the long growing seasons of the Southeast, it takes only four to five years for fuels to return to hazardous levels.
Altering Vegetative Communities - Many public agencies and some private landowners conduct prescribed burns to restore or improve natural forest conditions. Longleaf pine forests are commonly burned, but so are ecosystems as diverse as sandhill scrub and wet sawgrass or pondcypress prairies. In these natural forests, burning promotes seed germination, flowering, or resprouting of fire-adapted native plants and generally improves wildlife habitat.
Prescribed burning also changes the composition and density of existing vegetation. In forestry operations, fire at three- to five-year intervals reduces competing vegetation under forest stands over 10 years old. In pasture and range systems, fire is used at two- to three-year intervals to reduce encroachment of shrubs and invasive exotic weeds.
Improving Wildlife and Livestock Habitat - Regular burning of rangelands and understory plants improves forage quality and quantity for wildlife and livestock. New shrub, herb, and grass sprouts capture the quick flush of nutrients into the soil after a fire and are often more nutritious and palatable than older plants. Fires promote flower, seed, and fruit production, thus increasing available nuts and fruits for wildlife. Insects also increase rapidly after most fires. Burning different areas at different intervals and in different seasons produces a diversity of landscapes, animal food, and cover sources. Prescribed fire intervals of two to four years are generally used to promote this diversity.
Controlling Pest Problems - Prescribed burning has been used to control several different pest problems:
· needle disease on longleaf pine seedlings;
· bark beetles in infested trees that are cut and piled;
· root rot fungi;
· spittle bugs in pastures; and
· ticks and red bugs (chiggers).
Improving Access - By reducing dead fuels, harvest residues, and dense understory shrubs, prescribed fires can increase:
· openings for tree planting or natural regeneration;
· visibility within a stand for recreation or hunting;
· openings for wildlife feeding, travel, and display;
· access for hiking and other recreational activities.
In summary…Prescribe Burning is a cheap tool to keep your forest healthy, improve aesthetic value and decrease the potential for a very destructive wildfire !
For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF at (706) 457-0090