Fire – Prescribed Burning
Sharon Lane, Certified Master Naturalist, Indian Trail Chapter
FIRE! The Good, the Beneficial and the Positive.
Few (if any) of us do not have some fascination with fire. It has been used for hundreds of years as a tool in land and habitat management and was a natural part of the ecosystem; but as cities grew our fear of fire suppressed its use in land management.
Today we are seeing it used more and more as an effective tool in the form of prescribed burns to combat invasive species and to restore and enhance native grasses and habitat. A prescribed burn is a fire that is intentionally set within specific and defined parameters. This includes weather conditions, habitat structure, personnel, equipment and time of year. Effective planning is absolutely necessary to achieving beneficial effects from prescribed burning. A fire plan should be developed well in advance of the planned burn. Elements of a burn plan are described on B1310, “Prescribed Range Burning in Texas” (available from your county Extension agent). Checklists developed by the Soil Conservation Service are used in working with ranchers, landowners and city officials on burn plans.
Benefits of prescribed burns:
- Stop growth of undesirable/invasive plants (example: woody vegetation taking over native grasslands)
- Promote regrowth of warm and cool season grasses (example: restoring remnants of Blackland Prairie as a tall-grass prairie)
- Replenish soil nutrients
- Improve habitat for wildlife
- Aid in prevention of wildfires
- Increase diversity
Fire in the form of prescribed burning is one of our most effective methods of restoring and maintaining our native prairies and grasslands. When integrated with other practices, fire can be used to maintain desired vegetation composition and structure. Assistance and training are available for developing your prescribed burn program. Agencies currently involved are the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, Soil Conservation Service, Texas Forest Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Do you think nature should be part of our everyday life, not just somewhere to go on the weekends? You are invited to attend our free, open-to-the-public, monthly program on the fourth Monday of the month at 7 pm at the Red Oak Library, 200 Lakeview Pkwy, Red Oak, TX. For more information on the Indian Trail Master Naturalist Chapter, contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at 972-825-5175 or visit our website: https://txmn.org/indiantrail/.