Burn Baby Burn
The arrival of an early spring has put one song on replay in my head, “Disco Inferno” by the Trampps. At Pheasants Forever, it's the theme song of spring.
Controlled burning in early spring accomplishes two main objectives in habitat management. First, burning limits the growth of woody and other unwanted vegetation, thereby maintaining the prairie as a distinct ecosystem. Second, prescribed burning releases the nutrients bound in the plant litter, stimulating vigorous new growth.
Grass burns can be very dangerous if not done properly. Grasses produce extremely hot fires and can spread rapidly. Pheasants Forever’s habitat specialists and chapter volunteer burn crews are trained in completing safe and effective prescribed burns in many of the pheasant range states.
Prescribed burning can be an especially important tool in the mid-contract management of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands, as well as on state and federally managed wildlife lands.
What's the biggest limitation to utilizing prescribed fire as a habitat management tool?
The answer: the general public does not understand the value of prescribed fire to the prairie ecosystem. Fire is widely viewed as bad.
Stop and think about it for a moment; what maintained prairies as unique ecosystems prior to urbanization? The answer: massive grass fires started by lightning.
When it comes to habitat, fire is our friend. So, BURN BABY BURN!