Tom's Blog

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Prescribed burning on CRP land

We have very little ag land at Pleasant Valley Conservancy, but what we do have is all planted to prairie. This land has been in the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) since 1987. When we first started with CRP the regulations on prairie maintenance were very loose, but became more precise and restrictive with each ten-year renewal. There were lots of changes in required practices at the time of the last renewal in 2007, most especially on prescribed burning. I believe burning became a major issue because many landowners had not burned and their CRP land was becoming wooded.

Now each state has what the USDA calls a "job sheet" dealing with prescribed burning. The Wisconsin one #389 can be reached at this link. Note that prescribed burning is a "required" activity for each field in the CRP once every three years. Since we burned annually, I never worried about the USDA rules, but last week we received a notice from the NRCS (the office responsible for CRP practices) notifying us that we were required to submit a written burn plan for our CRP property. Wisconsin Job Sheet 338 is a detailed form with a lot of blanks to fill in. Among other things, an aerial photo is required that shows the details of the burn (locations of fire breaks and how the burn(s) will be carried out, etc. The map I put together is shown here.

The job sheet has a lot of other required information, such as who you are notifying about the burn, who is issuing the permit, what sort of equipment is available (how many drip torches, for instance), the communication plan (how many 2-way radios), what weather conditions would be acceptable for the burn, etc., etc.

An upside to these new required practices is that cost-sharing will be provided, so that the whole cost of the burn will not be on the land owner's shoulders.


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