Tom's Blog

Monday, February 6, 2012

Preparing burn plans

This is the time of year when one starts thinking about spring burns. I just finished the burn plans for Pleasant Valley Conservancy and Black Earth Rettenmund and will be sending them to the DNR Forester for approval and permits. People in the forested part of the state need permits, but many areas don't. Some years ago I did some research on Wisconsin's burn permitting system and published an article in The Prairie Promoter, but the information is now available on the DNR web site. The map here shows how complex the system is. For instance, some counties are hybrids, and permits are only needed in part of the county. This is true, for instance, of Dane, Iowa, and Grant. However, permits are needed in all of Crawford, Richland, Sauk, and Columbia counties. Why? Compare this map with that of the present vegetation of Wisconsin and you will find out. The forested regions of the state track fairly accurately the map. The fire permitting system has been designed by foresters. If you are burning prairie or savanna in Green, Lafayette, Rock, or Jefferson, you are out of the state system and are under local control. This may be good or bad for prescribed fire, depending on the local situation. (Generally it is good.)

This post gives me an opportunity of advancing a few words about the importance of fire on the landscape. I like this quote, adapted from one used in the longleaf pine habitats in the southeast U.S.:

"Taking fire out of the prairie and savanna is like taking rain out of the rainforest."

Without fire, brush gets started, and within a few years (depending on the conditions) brush gets so heavy that fire will no longer carry. Major restoration work is then needed to return such habitats to their rightful condition.

Prairies and savannas can't exist without fire. How frequent? Annually, according to the latest research.

Remember: Prescribed fire is the most economical tool of restoration ecology. It is so important that there must be a strong sense of urgency to "get it done".


Blogger baptisia said...

Prairies and savannas can't exist without fire. How frequent? Annually, according to the latest research.

Tom , do you have a reference for the research mentioned above ?

March 17, 2012 at 4:54 PM  

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