Tom's Blog

Friday, February 20, 2015

Report on the 2015 Midwest Fire Conference

Just returned from Dubuque where Kathie and I attended the 2015 Midwest Fire Conference: "Keeping Fire Working for the Land". This was organized by the Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Savanna Fire Consortium (TPOS) and was a multi-state affair, with over 330 attendees and 60 speakers. Naturally, Iowa was the state with most attendees, but there were lots from Wisconsin and Illinois, and a smattering from Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Nebraska, and Missouri. See the map below and the TPOS website for details.

A new feature of this conference was an App (courtesy of TNC) that would run on a tablet or smart phone that gave you the complete schedule, list of attendees, and all the abstracts. With good WiFi throughout the conference setting, this was very useful. (There was also a regular printed program.)

You should be able to see the abstracts and some of the recorded presentations in a few days on the TPOS web site. Here I am listing some of the sessions that I attended.

A major highlight was the Plenary paper by Bill Kleiman and Cody Considine of The Nature Conservancy summarizing 25 years of fire at Nachusa Grasslands. Nachusa is a very impressive large restoration, especially since almost all the work there, including burns, is done by volunteers. See the Nachusa website at this link.

I list here some of the sessions that I was able to attend:

  • Fire equipment (Rob Littiken)
    • What people are using and how it works
    • Real "nuts and bolts" stuff
  • Burn preparation and fireline placement (Erik Acker)
    • Very useful information on making fire breaks
  • Jumps, escapes, mishaps and close calls (Brad Woodson)
    • Lots of folks in the audience shared their stories
  • Using fire to restore oak sites--Case Studies
    • Missouri (John Murphy)
    • Iowa (Bryan Hellyer)
    • Wisconsin (Sara Kehrli)
  • Oak roundtable
    • Small group discussions of limits and needs for use of fire in oak systems
  • Fire histories and 60 years of change in Wisconsin savannas
    • Resurvey of Curtis' savanna sites (Laura Ladwig)
  • Fire and plant diversity of Wisconsin prairie remnants
    • Resurvey of Curtis' prairie sites (Amy Alstad)
In addition to the program, it was especially nice to see so many friends, not only from Wisconsin, but from other states. Kathie and I have been burning long enough now that we are getting to know a lot of folks in the "fire community".

Photos courtesy of the Conference website


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