Apps, Publications and Videos
Browse or search our media resources for information and tools to help you with your fire science and management needs.
The vegetation patterns and succession of Great Plains grasslands are structured largely by fire. We can see how important fire is to these grasslands by its exclusion, in as little as 40 years tallgrass prairie without fire can become a woodland.
An open discussion from the Fire Summit 2016 moderated by John Wier and Bryan Hays.
A presentation by Jeff Pennington from the Fire Summit 2016.
A presentation by Chuck Stanley from the Fire Summit 2016.
A presentation by Bryan Yockers from the Fire Summer 2016.
Alice Tipton described her research in glades relating mycorrhizae to fire and plant productivity.
Japanese brome, Russian knapweed, spotted knapweed, and leafy spurge are invasive, non-native weeds in the northern prairies of the central United States. Because they reproduce by seed, destroying the seed with fire may be one way to control these plants. Knowing the fire characteristics that will kill the seeds is important to using this method of control.
The invasive species cheatgrass, Bromus tectorum, has been linked to increased fire frequency, reduced livestock weight gains and plant diversity, and degraded wildlife habitat in the Intermountain region of the western United States.
Given a choice, grazing animals prefer forage on recently burned rather than unburned areas. The relationship between fire and grazing pressure may be different where grass production is high (tallgrass) as compared to lower productivity semi-arid rangelands.
Grasshoppers in the northern Great Plains periodically experience population outbreaks. While insecticides are available to help control these outbreaks, prescribed burning and livestock grazing, alone or in combination, may offer range managers another method of control.
Patch burn grazing in a semi-arid grassland: consequences for pronghorn, plains pricklypear, and wind erosion
Patch burn grazing management is prescribed burning and grazing practice that allows livestock and wildlife to select a diet from both burned and unburned vegetation. Differences in forage quality between the burned and unburned areas can affect where animals graze.
Prickly pears are native plants that provide food and habitat for wildlife. However, they can reduce forage and increase livestock injury when there are too many of them. Plains prickly pear is adapted to fire, re-growing from seeds, roots, and pads, but fire can also kill plants.
Grazing immediately following a wildfire has been thought to be damaging to northern Great Plains grasslands, and delaying grazing is often recommended. This recommendation may be needlessly causing livestock producers extra work and loss of income, as these grasslands have been shown to be resilient to summer fire, grazing and drought.
Fire is common in the western Great Plains, but much less well studied than in eastern prairies. Wildfires most commonly occur in July and August in these semi-arid rangelands covered with cool-season grasses, but the impact of summer fires has not been well researched.
As land has been converging to crops, fire has been suppressed, coyotes have been controlled and tree and shrub cover in rangelands has increased. Thus, swift fox populations have severely declined in number and have become cut off from one another. Returning fire to the landscape may improve habitat for swift foxes.
Purple threeawn reproduces from seed and vegetatively from basal buds, the source for new tillers. While typically a minor grassland species, it increases with intensive disturbance and can persist at high levels decades afterward.
Although there is a wealth of knowledge of plant and avian responses to fire in the Great Plains, responses are not as well understood for arthropods, including insects, spiders, and their close relatives.
In Great Plains grasslands, grasses are typically the dominant plant life form because of their exceptional competitive abilities. When grasses are subjected to a period of intense grazing pressure, such as in the most recently burned patch of a patch burn grazed pasture, non‐grass plants in the same patch may experience a period of release from competition
with the grasses.
Patch burn grazing is burning different patches of a pasture at different times and allowing animals to select where they want to graze. Originally conceived as an alternative to uniform utilization, patch burn grazing manages for vegetation structural diversity to conserve biodiversity while also sustaining the rangeland resource.
Fuel moisture is often listed as an important criteria for ignition in burn plans. Why does fuel moisture matter? Dryer fuels ignite at lower fire temperatures and burn more rapidly and more completely.
The workshop held on March 18‐19, 2014 was developed to share current knowledge, technical information, practical management information, and provide training opportunities for private local, federal and state participants that either manage land or work with land managers.
In most states, statutory requirements for liability protection under either
standard include a burn permit but are more variable with respect to the presence of a CPBM at the burn, written prescriptions, adequate personnel and firebreaks, and burn ban exemptions.
Prescribed burning is widely accepted as a critical management tool in the tallgrass prairie, however, the ecological effects of burning at different times of the season are poorly understood. In the Kansas Flint Hills, timing of fire is an important management issue that carries socio-economic as well as ecological implications.
A review of characteristics of burns conducted under modified prescriptions to mitigate limited fuels in a semi‐arid grassland
In the semiarid shortgrass steppe region of the Great Plains, interest in prescribed fire as a management tool is rising. A growing body of literature from this region highlights the utility of fire in controlling undesirable species, managing habitat structure, and improving forage, but few seek to directly examine the mechanisms by which burning alters
October 13, 2015 a diverse group of people interested in grassland fire convened to learn about effects of season of fire and see the results of a fall burn (1‐year post‐burn) at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Strong City, Kansas.
The following review is intended to summarize available literature in order to provide a state-of-the-art understanding of the effects of fire in the Northern Great Plains of North America.
Fuels management typically involves changing fuel structure or amount. Fuels management in woodlands conjures up visions of burning, tree felling, and mastication among other techniques, but grassland fuels management requires very different approaches.
Climate change has greatly impacted rangeland systems. Changes in rangelands are having dramatic effects on both social and ecological systems. Increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have contributed to a 1° C increase in average global temperature since the industrial revolution.
Grasslands have supported a broad array of life over the millennia. Not only have they supported rich biodiversity, but also they shaped the region’s stream flow and groundwater hydrology, contributed to carbon sequestration, and offered many environmental benefits.
One quantitative approach to prioritizing management actions uses a stepwise process. It starts by quantifying thresholds at which abrupt changes occur within ecological systems. In the case of prescribed fire in grasslands, thresholds can represent the fire intensity that results in death of a target species.
Oak savannas provide important habitat for plant and animal species adapted to this distinct, but rare ecosystem. Historically, oak savanna sustained bison and elk, but now it also plays a role in cattle
production in some parts of the country.
The phenomenon of grassland conversion to shrublands and woodlands—known as woody plant encroachment—continues to receive increasing attention in rangelands worldwide.
Researchers have established that fire and grazing in-fluence structure and function of rangeland ecosystems. Fire’s effects in combination with grazing management varies throughout the Great Plains.
Land managers and the public often have the perception that, although prescribed fire assists in management of fire-dependent landscapes, it presents greater risks than the use of other land management tools, such as mechanical removal.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) rules state that “Burning shall not be commenced when surface wind speed is predicted to be less than six miles per hour (mph) (five knots) or greater than 23 mph (20 knots) during the burn period“.
Lesser prairie‐chickens are an iconic part of the Great Plains and so their protection is of interest to a variety of stakeholders from landowners to land managers and grassland enthusiasts to researchers. Given the recent federal listing of the lesser prairie‐chicken, these stakeholders are engaged in discussions about the best methods to restore, conserve, and protect the species and its habitat.
On nearly every continent, prior and current cultures have practiced land management using fire. This publication compares fire practices in these traditional fire cultures and how they differ from the way modern management uses fire.
My station was to relate why we want to do prescribed burning and how it can be done safely. For adults, this would usually be a one hour PowerPoint presentation. I did not think that a slide presentation would appeal to the students, so we experimented with a new way of communicating the fire message.
Grasslands have supported a broad array of life over the millennia. Not only have they supported rich biodiversity, but also they shaped the region’s stream flow and groundwater hydrology, contributed to carbon sequestration, and offered many environmental benefits. Additionally, grasslands have provided the basis for agricultural and livestock production.
Most of the world’s grasslands evolved with fire, whether ignited by lightning or people. For millennia, flames burned regularly though small patches and vast stretches of prairie landscapes, restoring and sustaining an enormous variety of native grassland plants.
Resistance to the use of prescribed fire is strong among many private land managers despite the advantages it offers for maintaining fire-prone ecosystems. Often, managers who are aware of the benefits of using prescribed fire as a management tool avoid using it because of fear of liability for damages that may result from an escaped fire or smoke.
The ecological value of shortgrass prairies in North America has become increasingly evident as populations of prairie dog (Cynomys spp.) and burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) begin to decline.
The varied regions of the Great Plains share a history of fire, for example, the mixed‐grass prairies of the Dakotas, tallgrass prairie of Kansas, and cross timbers of Texas all evolved with periodic burning.
The Great Plains is a fire-dependent ecosystem with short fire return intervals. Based on fire spread and ignition modeling, patch burn grazing could be a useful tool for reducing the incidence and severity of large, catastrophic fires.
Patch burn‐grazing is a rangeland management strategy that exploits the attraction of grazing animals to recently burned areas in order to achieve management objectives.
Alteration of grassland disturbance regimes has greatly diminished grassland structural complexity and is likely a contributing factor to the decline in grassland bird populations.
Conducting planned burns and lighting unplanned fires carries some inherent risk for injury. Even though firefighters train and plan in an effort to reduce risks on the fireline, accidents still happen.
In Great Plains grasslands, grasses are typically the dominant plant life form because of their exceptional competitive abilities. With extensive root systems in the upper soil layers, grasses are able to exploit soil resources such as water and nutrients to a degree that many non‐grass plants aren’t able to.
This is an interesting question given the diversity of standards in legislation and regulations related to certified prescribed burn managers (CPBM) across the region.
Victoria Donovan of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln presenting a webinar for the Great Plains Fire Science Association.