The Role of Fire in Oklahoma Landscapes


Many of Oklahoma's landscapes have evolved with fire as a natural and necessary contributor to their overall health and renewal.  Many plant species require fire to germinate, to establish, or to reproduce, or all three. Native Americans used fire across Oklahoma to provide better access, improve hunting, and ridding the land of undesirable species so they could farm. Early European settlers to our state observed this and continued the practice of using fire as a beneficial agent.

 But as more settlers arrived, an encroaching urban interface and losses to timber, farm and range land called attention a growing wildfire problem and led to fire being labeled as destructive.  Since that time great effort has been made to exclude fire from the landscape. But removing fire from the landscape has had consequences.  Many of our lands are no longer healthy and the growth which has continued in the absence of fire resulted in an accumulation of fuels increasing the overall risk of wildfires.

As knowledge accumulated, the use of "prescribed" fire grew and natural resource professionals now include fire as an appropriate tool to manage forests, woodlands and range.  Properly used, fire remains an excellent tool for restoring and managing many Oklahoma landscapes.

To learn more about fire's role in Oklahoma ecosystems
and the proper use of prescribed fire
we encourage you to watch our video "A Land in Balance"

 

Oklahoma Forestry Services promotes the responsible use
of lawful, controlled or prescribed fire to manage wildlands and is a
Charter Member of the Oklahoma Prescribed Fire Council.