Oklahoma prescribed fire article.


Staff member
Nicely done...

"OSAGE COUNTY, Okla. (KTUL) – Just saying the word wildfire can put a chill into a lot of Oklahomans.

They know those fires can take their homes and endanger their families, but fire also has a different side.

It can be used to revive pasture land and it is a primary tool that’s used to protect the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve just north of Pawhuska.

We joined the staff of the Nature Conservancy for a prescribed burn Monday morning.

The effort was a real lesson on the benefits and the dangers of fire.

While the area has recently had seven inches of rain and half the fuel for the fire was bright green, they didn’t have any trouble getting it to burn.

The fires burn away trees and the thick mat of dead vegetation that can slow the growth of the grasses and other desirable native plants.

They also mimic the actions of lightning strikes and native tribes long before there was an Oklahoma.

Burning is necessary to preserve the environment, but it’s done with a great deal of care.

Bob Hamilton is the director of the preserve and he says they don’t want one to get away.

Hamilton joked, “The throwaway line here is, wooo, that one’s going to Topeka!”

He added, “With roughly about four to five million acres, is what‘s here in the Osage Flint Hills. With fine continuous fuels, it can sure run.

While the safety conditions were very good for Monday’s burn, when things are dry and windy the crews know they face real dangers.

Tony Brown, of the Nature Conservancy staff, will tell you it pays to keep a level head, Brown said, “When its gets a little sketchy, I guess you would say, you’ve gotta slow down, step back and take a breath."

They were all pleased with the results of the burn, but they get a lot of practice.

They burn ten thousand to fifteen thousand acres of the preserve every year.

Monday’s fire boss hopes more people will learn, the flames are part of our history.

Jeremy Tubbs said, "You get a lot of people who say, the land used to burn all the time. As a child, I used to watch the fires come through, or my grandfather used to burn and I think those people appreciate it.”

The fires and the preserve's bison combine to keep the land like it was 10,000 years ago.

The preserve staff said the flames don’t ad to pollution, because they increased growth of prairie vegetation, takes in more carbon monoxide than the flames give off."
Good read Okie. I often wonder if the recent acceptance of burns is somewhat related to the uncontrolled burns that occurred in Yellowstone in the late 80's?? There was a huge national uproar that those fires were allowed to take their natural course as is the custom in the park. Much of the park was under siege by fire for months. Many predicted destruction of plant and animal wildlife. But studies showed resurgence of plants occurred within weeks and grazers and browsers were on the new growth immediatedly. I have been there a few times, well past 15 years past the large fires, and tho scorched trees still remain, the new growth is amazing. I'ts an ugly sight but productive.

Controlled burns are done here on state and federal lands pretty frequently these days. One done just a few weeks ago near my town and the smoke was pretty aggravating for a day or so. Here is a link to a govt description of wildfires and their need and how they are done.

Here in the east we aren't allowed to even burn our trash in most places. I wish we could do prescribed burns.
We have burned our land i'd say on average once every three to five years since I can remember. I couldn't imagine not doing it. The biggest challenge I see in the future is air quality in metropolitan areas that are effected by the smoke. That could get us shut down eventually. We burned in February this year. Earliest I can remember. Dad said he wants to do his part (as small as it is) to not contribute to that problem.
We have burned about 325 acres so far this year and hope to get another 75 done in the next few weeks. Fire is an excellent tool in the southeast and is critical to managing Longleaf habitat. From a deer, turkey, quail standpoint - there is simply nothing that comes close to the benefit of fire, and certainly nothing that competes on a cost standpoint.

The biggest challenge we have in South Carolina - and other southern states, is the influx of people from parts of the country where fire has not been used. We have a lot of folks that move down from the northeast and the first time they see a column of smoke going up 10 miles away they go nuts. Their only exposure to fire is what they have seen on TV or what they read to their kids about Smokey the Bear.

I just finished reading an outstanding book about the Longleaf and the role fire has played in the past and does play today. "Longleaf Far As The Eye Can See" by Bill Finch. Even if you don't read the book, this speech he gave to the Alabama Archives and History that is recorded on YouTube is really interesting