The Ecology of Controlled Burns

By | December 4, 2019

Controlled burning is first of all a
natural process that has been going on for thousands of years so when you look
at ecosystems like longleaf pine and other southeastern forests they’re
adapted to that fire and so they need that to thin out competing vegetation and to keep the open structure, promote forage for things like turkey deer and other wildlife so by burning these low-intensity fires
every several years you reduce that fuel you kill some of the competing
vegetation and you rejuvenate that understory – that grassy herbaceous
understory that the wildlife need . “So we need to put on both sides right?” “Let’s secure that first and if it creeps across that it’s fine. If it doesn’t, that’s fine.” “That sounds good, OK”. There’s a lot of planning that goes
into this process. It’s a it’s a whole science – “fire science” – you bring in the smoke, the weather, the fuel, the trees, the wildlife… we have to understand all that to be able to use this effectively. And then when they get out there we really get their hands dirty so we go, “here’s a drip torch” let’s show you how to use it safely. Those techniques all change depending on weather conditions, fuel conditions, what are the safety protocols involved? We kind of take them through
the whole process from the planning stages all the way through the mopping
up stages. “I’ve done lab work, and I’ve done field work so that’s really exciting learning about it is one thing but then actually being out to go out and catch things on fire is really, really cool and it really helps.”

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