When is fire a good thing? When it is applied in a controlled manner, by trained professionals and under precise weather conditions, to achieve specific land management objectives. Much of Oklahoma’s native ecology is dependent upon fire to remain healthy and vibrant. Oklahoma Forestry Services encourages the responsible use of prescribed fires as an important tool to protect property, conserve native plant communities and and restore critical wildlife habitats.
Fire, along with rain, wind and sun, is a necessary component for balanced, healthy landscape. In Oklahoma, prescribed fire is used to manage a number of natural resources and provides the following benefits:
· Reduces the outbreak, spreading and potential catastrophic damage of wildfires, by reducing the accumulations of hazardous fuel (leaves, twigs, pine cones, branches, and other debris).
· Rejuvenates soil nutrients, encouraging new growth of grass, plants and trees.
· Attracts diverse plants, trees and animals, while helping to control invasive species.
· Improves wildlife habitats by increasing food quality, quantity and availability. Deer, quail and wild turkeys are some of the wildlife that benefit from prescribed burns.
· Replenishes rangelands, improving grazing vegetation for cattle and reducing the need to fertilize.
“People typically have an immediate fear of all fire, and our goal is to create awareness about the difference between beneficial prescribed fires and dangerous wildfires,” said State Forester George Geissler. “We also want to educate landowners about the ways in which prescribed fire can help to protect their families and property from wildfires, and replenish their land, trees and wildlife habitats.”
Who should consider prescribed fire? Oklahoma’s population has changed, with more people living in areas previously subject to natural fires. Landowners who live on property that is located on the edge of forests or wildlands – known as the urban wildland interface – are at high risk from wildfires and can benefit from prescribed burns to reduce the available fuels. Ranchers and farmers also can improve the productivity of their lands and reduce the risk of catastrophic loss from wildfires.
Oklahoma Forestry Services, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, is available to work with land owners to access the need, develop plans and even perform a prescribed burn.
For more information about prescribed fires, call 405-522-6158 or visit www.forstry.ok.gov/rxfire
Posted on Wed, October 2, 2013