Prescribed fires, also known as controlled burns or planned burns, are intentionally set fires that are managed and controlled by qualified land management professionals and experienced burners. These fires are effective at removing invasive species, improving wildlife habitats, promoting the growth of desirable vegetation, and reducing the risk of unanticipated wildfires. Upon state certification, qualified professionals can become Certified Prescribed Burn Managers who are more commonly referred to as Certified Burners.
Click above to watch this fascinating process in action. Learn more about Prescribed Fires below.
How do Prescribed Fires Improve Wildlife?
Landowners will hire Certified Burners for a variety of purposes as prescribed fires can have a number of benefits for wildlife. Some of the ways that prescribed fires can improve wildlife habitat include:
Promoting the Growth of Desirable Vegetation
By removing old and dead plant material, prescribed fires can create favorable conditions for the growth of native vegetation that provides food and shelter for wildlife. These carefully planned and monitored fires serve a vital function in breaking down the dead plant matter that then releases valuable nutrients into the soil. This process helps to promote future plant growth by making these nutrients more readily available.
Creating Diversity in Habitat
Prescribed fires can create a patchwork of different age classes of vegetation, which provides a variety of habitats for different species of wildlife. For example, young regrowth after a fire may provide cover and food for small mammals, while older stands of vegetation may be used by larger mammals.
Controlling Invasive Plant Species
Invasive plant species can outcompete native vegetation and reduce the quality of habitat for wildlife. Prescribed fires can help control these species by removing or reducing their cover and creating conditions that are more favorable for native vegetation.
Reducing the Risk of Wildfires
Prescribed fires play a vital role in reducing the accumulation of fuels and flammable materials, effectively lowering the risk of uncontrolled wildfires. By intentionally burning these excess materials, the potential for catastrophic fires is significantly diminished. This practice is crucial in areas prone to wildfires, helping to protect both natural habitats and human communities alike.
The Prescribed Fire Process
It is important to note that the effects of prescribed fires on wildlife can vary depending on the timing, intensity, and frequency of the burn, as well as the type of ecosystem and the species of wildlife present. Prescribed fires should only be conducted by trained Certified Burners who understand the potential impacts on wildlife and can manage the burn to minimize harm and maximize benefits.
Preparing for Prescribed Fires
- Planning: The first step in conducting a controlled burn is to develop a detailed plan that takes into account the objectives of the burn, the weather conditions, the fuel types and topography, as well as the potential impacts on air quality, wildlife, and nearby communities.
- Obtaining permits: Prescribed fires are typically regulated by local, state, or federal agencies and require a permit to ensure that they are conducted safely and in accordance with regulations.
- Preparation: Before conducting the burn, the area to be burned should be prepared by creating fire breaks, removing flammable materials, and ensuring that adequate firefighting resources are available.
- Ignition: The burn is ignited using a variety of methods, such as drip torches, aerial ignition, or ignition by hand. The ignition method will depend on the fuel types and weather conditions, as well as the goals of the burn.
Contact the Experts
Prescribed fires are subject to local, state, and federal regulations, and it is important to comply with all relevant laws and regulations when conducting a prescribed burn. To learn more about this fascinating process, contact one of SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler’s land management professionals today. Boasting years of experience, the firm offers expert consultation with a wide range of land management services.