Apps, Publications and Videos
Browse or search our media resources for information and tools to help you with your fire science and management needs.
Alternative Burning Strategies and their Effects on Cattle Performance, Grassland, and the Environment.
This recent study explores the effects of burning and grazing on local reptile and amphibian populations. Danelle Larson, Ph.D., a post-doctoral researcher at Idaho State University, applied fire only, grazing only, and a combination of fire and grazing treatments to an area of land to observe the effect on herpetofauna (local populations of reptiles and amphibians). She also included sections of land that had been burned or grazed in the previous year to see how herpetofauna populations changed. This study was performed on tallgrass prairie, but most of the species of reptiles and amphibians studied are common to ecosystems managed by fire and/or grazing throughout North America. Larson concluded that in order to conserve herpetofauna, both fire and grazing should be used to create a variety of patch types.
Fire managers rely on research syntheses for concise, objective information. This report, based on current literature and interviews with fire professionals, describes ways to create more useful syntheses for managers in fire and related natural resources.
This "synthesis about syntheses" describes characteristics of effective syntheses and provides suggestions for writing more useful syntheses.
Watch presentations by Sam Fuhlendorf, John Briggs, Dirac Twidwell, and Larry Sanders recorded at the Society for Range Management Meeting in Orlando Florida in February 2014. The Workshop centered on the topic of juniper encroachment was capped off with a discussion on how to apply the science to policy.
Recordings from the 66th annual Society for Range Management meeting in Oklahoma City. These talks were given by David MJS Bowman and Stephen J Pyne.
You can find a nice detailed presentation on mixing heights and transport winds from the Tallgrass Prairie and Savanna consortium here. A good presentation for burn boss trainees, prescribed fire specialists and fire ecologists.
A recorded presentation on fire in the wildland urban interface of Texas.
Fire history in the Great Plains is complex. Tree ring analysis reveals the influence of topography and weather, but also the importance of human historical events and milestones in the frequency of fire. Mike Stambaugh of the University of Missouri Tree Ring lab discussed his work to understand fire history in the Great Plains at Missouri State University's Biology Department seminar series
The Geographic Area Coordination Centers (GACC) were established to serve Federal and State wildland fire agencies through logistical coordination and mobilization of resources (people, aircraft, ground equipment) throughout various geographical areas.
The fires were suspected to be human caused. Lack of snow cover and Chinook winds contributed to fire spread. A change in weather conditions was needed to fight the fire. Further analysis of the weather indicated that similar conditions occur more often that thought and increased human activity in the area leads to an increase in fire potential. Therefore a system for monitoring fire danger and warning communities would be advantageous.
You can listen to a series of radio interviews organized by Great Plains Fire Science Exchange through KSU. You’ll find radio interviews from Bill Waln, Doug Watson, Jay Pornoy, Brian Obermeyer, Rod Winkler, Jason Hartman, and Sherry Leis.
In this webinar, Dale Wade (retired Forestry Consultant for the U.S. Forest Service) talked about lessons he has learned from over forty years of experience in working with prescribed fire. Topics of discussion included ignition devices, ignition techniques, fire effects, and prescribed burn planning.
This kit was originally designed in 2012 by Jon Schwedler and Wendy Fulks for use with Nature Conservancy Fire Management staff and Outreach Specialists. The kit was adapted by Sherry Leis with the Great Plains Fire Science Exchange. We thank two reviewers for commenting on the revised kit. You can find many of the documents we cited in the report on this web site by using the search bar.
The Fire Effects Monitoring and Inventory System (Firemon) is a U.S. Forest Service independent plot level sampling system designed to characterize changes in ecosystem attributes over time.
The fire ecology program for the Central Great Plains region, embedded within the Heartland Inventory and Monitoring Network (HTLN), is multifaceted. It serves as an integrating factor among the vital signs projects already in place within HTLN as well as integrating HTLN into the Midwest Region Fire programs.
Sampling methods used are a hybrid of those described in the HTLN vegetation monitoring protocol and the NPS Fire Monitoring Handbook. The fire ecology program has adapted the protocols described in the Fire Monitoring Handbook to synchronize with the existing sample site array established by HTLN. In this way, both short-term fire ecology data and long-term vegetation monitoring data are collected in a complementary fashion
STILLWATER, Okla. – The Oklahoma Prescribed Burning Handbook has been a wildly popular publication. So much so that John Weir, research associate in Oklahoma State University’s Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management can hardly keep them stocked on his shelves. To help keep the supply up with the demand, Weir worked with DASNR’s Technology-Services and Support group to create the “Prescribed Fire Handbook,” a mobile website landowners and land managers can easily take with them into the field.
“Anywhere someone has phone service or an Internet connection is a great place to take advantage of this technology,” Weir said. “Virtually all of the information found in our hard copy handbook is now available online in a mobile friendly version.”
The page, factsheets.okstate.edu/e1010, has different tabs at the bottom for various interest areas. There are links to fact sheets and highlights, as well as a question and answer section and tabs for information, such as the effects of fire, preferred weather, fire laws and training opportunities.
"This mobile handbook can answer many of the questions anyone may have before and when conducting prescribed burns,” Weir said. “While the Oklahoma Prescribed Burning Handbook is full of great information, this new technology has all the same information, but it’s much more conveniently accessed through all media devices.”
The information found on the site is valuable to more than just Oklahoma residents, too. “People from all over the region, in surrounding states, can use this information for their burning needs, as well,” Weir said. “While this is not Oklahoma-specific material, we know that residents in our state have really put this information to good use in years past through the hard copy of this handbook.”
By visiting the website, users can create an icon on their smartphone, tablet or laptop. The icon can be placed on a home screen and used as a link, taking users straight to the website and information.
“We are really excited about being able to provide this information to everyone,” Weir said. “It will be very handy to just pull your phone out and search for what you need, rather than shuffling through pages of the old handbook.”
Learn how to set up photo points so that you maximize the information they provide.
This new publication discusses a variety of ways to construct food plots. Fire is discussed as a way of attracting wildlife along with more traditional agricultural approaches such as crop plantings. If you maintain fire breaks on your land, the breaks might be able to serve as places to attract wildlife without disturbing new ground.
This document has been transcribed from a scan of the February 1992 Fire Behavior Field Reference Guide. The scan was converted to editable text using OCR; the text was then edited and formatted. Outdated content referring to BEHAVE was not transcribed. Figures have been included in this document by simple copy-and-paste, not by scanning to an image file. Many figures should be re-created with graphing or illustration software. Tables were either copy-and-pasted or re-created in electronic format.
A comprehensive manual for evaluating fire effects developed by the National Park Service
TheNational Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) has developed this information forthe guidance of its member agencies and is not responsible for interpretation or useof this informationfor everyone except themember agencies. The use of trade, firmor corporation namesin this publication are for the information and convenience of the reader and do not constitute an endorsement by NWCGof any product or services to the exclusion of others that may be suitable.
Prescribed burning for range improvement has become a commong practice during the past few years. This has been especially evident in texas. Prescribed fire can accomplish many range improvement objectives with a single treatment. For example, one burn can control noxious brush, increase herbage yield, increase utilization, increase forage availability, improve wildlife habitat and control various disease.
This technical reference applies to monitoring situations involving a single plant species, such as an indicator species, key species, or weed. It was initially developed for monitoring special status plants.
This fact sheet covers the basics on prescribed fire (a.k..a planned burns) in grasslands.
Learn about how urban and neighborhood planning can reduce wildfire risks.
The AFE’s position paperon carbon emissions and prescribed fire addresses grasslands in addition to woodland resources and the benefit of Rx fire.
Prescribed fire plans often address smoke and air quality concerns. Burn bosses plan for their preferred wind to avoid sensitive populations like schools and hospitals. Kansas smoke management recommendations provide decision support tools to help burners know what their contribution to air quality might be on a target spring day. Oklahoma recently instituted another tool to help burners avoid critical air quality levels. A new ozone burn ban was enacted in 2013. On days when ozone alters have been issued for the areas around Oklahoma City and Tulsa, open burning is prohibited. Luckily, most people probably won’t be too interested in burning during that kind of hot steamy weather pattern.
The Oklahoma Forestry Service maintains a web page listing current Oklahoma Burn Bans. For more on the Kansas smoke management efforts, watch our videos on Fire in the Flint Hills and visit the Kansas Flint Hills Smoke Management website to learn how some ignition techniques can reduce smoke output.
Read about the work that Refugio-Goliad Prairie is doing to maintain ecosystems with fire in Texas.
Researchers are hopeful about a soil fungus that has potential to control cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum). At the following website check out the list of papers describing research trials.
A letter in Nature (“Rate of Tree Carbon Accumulation Increases Continuously with Tree Size”) contradicts the widely held belief that while large trees store carbon, they do not accumulate significant amounts. A story and podcast about this research also appear on the journal’s public website.
Providing Us an Effective Alternative to Traditional AARs
Craig Cunningham, Superintendent of the Ruby Mountain Hotshots, has come up with a new way to structure After Action Reviews (AAR) that is making a positive difference on his crew. Previously, AARs were often vague debriefings which many people said were “broken”, but the new PLOWS structure changes how the AAR is used. The mnemonic PLOWS stands for Plan, Leadership, Obstacles, Weaknesses, and Strengths. By asking questions related to each topic, such as “Was the leader’s intent communicated and sufficient?” a safety and learning focused AAR can be conducted while encouraging crew participation. Some crews have been putting PLOWS into practice and observed that their discussion of the obstacles encountered one day led directly to a plan of improvements for the next. The PLOWS format is said to be working well for crews that have adopted it and influences small changes as well as larger goals for the upcoming season. Cunningham encourages others to try new AAR formats and share what works so others may benefit. Learn how to implement the PLOWS method of AAR on page 6 of the issue of "Two More Chains" linked below.
Nature Saskatchewan resources include: fact sheets, activity guides, coloring sheets, and much more.
Prescribed fire is widely viewed as a useful but risky ecosystem management tool, and liability is a crucial issue for prescribed burning on private and public land. Basic liability rules motivate landowners to reduce risk when making choices about the use of fire. Liability therefore influences land use through incentives, and so has important consequences for the larger ecological landscape. Strict liability rules may lead to too little prescribed fire use, while negligence rules may, under certain circumstances, lead to too much. Although prescribed fire provides broad public benefits, such as reduction of wildfire risk or enhanced ecosystem health, the application of liability rules by courts often discourages its use as a vegetation management option. Various approaches exist for improving the laws and regulations surrounding prescribed fire.
Lightning is known to spark wildfires. Across the country, lightning frequencies vary greatly (World lightning frequency maps). In the Great Plains, lightning is often accompanied by rain and therefore is less likely to ignite wildfires. Nevertheless, mother nature does sometimes start fires here in the GP.
Have you ever seen a tree that seems to have exploded? Have you ever wondered why trees explode when lightning strikes them? Here’s a blog post from Ian Lunt’s Ecological Research Site to help us understand the process.
It all starts with the soil. In fact, 2015 has been dubbed the International Year of Soil. In that spirit, throughout this year we will make a special effort to pass along grassland soil science relevant to the fire community.
The Journal of Ecology has a special virtual issue focused on below ground interactions. This issue contains several papers related to grasslands that might spark your interest.
This report looks at the economic and social impacts of fuels treatments in an effort to answer persistent questions asked by Congress as they consider funding levels. Although this report is focused on woodlands, especially in the Southwest, I think the implications are important for the whole fire community. The sections on the wildland urban interface (where the natural areas meet the cities) are particularly important in the Great Plains.
Considerable prescribed fire research has been conducted on Ashe juniper (Juniperus ashei) and redberry juniper (J. pinchotii) communities in Texas. Prescribed fire is an effective, cost competitive method of controlling juniper. This paper outlines how to safely and efficiently conduct prescribed fires in juniper communities and discusses vegetation responses in the two major juniper types found in Texas.
In 1963, Omer C. Stewart, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado, wrote an article about the use of fire by aboriginal peoples. This publication was not regarded with much importance when Stewart first presented it, but now his ideas are more respected within the fire community. Stewart focused on the value of learning about the ways indigenous peoples used fire as an ecological management tool. His article “Barriers to Understanding the Influence of Use of Fire by Aborigines on Vegetation” discusses the importance of taking time to learn from aboriginal people about their historical use of fire. In addition, Stewart addresses several reasons that historical information acquired from indigenous people is often disregarded in the realm of science.
What motivates you to work in fire? How in the world did you come to work with fire, study fire, or otherwise be mesmerized by it? Do you like fire because of the adrenalin factor, the danger? Do you work in fire because you love grasslands and fire is just part of it? Do you like fire because it reminds you of those camping trips as a kid where you ate s’mores and roasted hot dogs over the fire? Do you like fire because [insert your favorite species here] needs it to survive? Do you like fire because others fear it? Do you work in fire because if we don’t learn to live with it, wildfire could devastate your favorite places? Do you work in fire because you want to protect the people and places you love?
For these reasons and more, the fire community in the Great Plains is passionate about fire. Our job is to provide sound information to assist you in these endeavors. Fire ecology research that describes the role of fire in habitat and community management, science related to communicating about fire, information related to operations, smoke management, and public acceptance. Tell us what information you need and we’ll dig it up, synthesize it, and share it. If you have produced information that is valuable, even vital, to the fire community we’ll help get the word out.
If I am at all representative of the fire community (right, so that’s a stretch for this odd ball writer), there are multiple reasons any one of us in the field (or fields) works with fire. Personally, I’d say that fire is just plain cool, there’s something about it that is difficult to explain.. Ultimately, I love grassland and fire is just part of it. It’s mesmerizing, rejuvenating, and mysterious.
I always get sideways, curious looks when I tell people what I do for a living, but that is just an opportunity to educate and inspire. It’s fun to watch students, adults and children alike, play with my matchstick forests, count sticks to assess fuel loads, and burn hog pans full of wet and dry fuel during workshops. Who knows where these little lessons will take people, but I guarantee they enjoyed the opportunity.
In this article, Twidwell and others compared accident and fatality rates for wildland fire (wildfire and prescribed fire) to related occupations such as construction, animal production, crop production, and logging. Firefighters had the least fatalities from 2006-2013. Prescribed fire had far fewer fatal injuries than wildfire from 1963-2013. The authors caution that the datasets have limitations and really provide an approximation.
Standard Fire Behavior Fuel Models: A Comprehensive Set for Use with Rothermel's Surface Fire Spread Model
This report describes a new set of standard fire behavior fuel models for use with Rothermel’s
surface fire spread model and the relationship of the new set to the original set of 13 fire behavior
fuel models. To assist with transition to using the new fuel models, a fuel model selection guide,
fuel model crosswalk, and set of fuel model photos are provided.
This handout was published in 2005, but it contains good information. Topics covered include history of fire use in Texas, fire ecology in different ecoregions, use of fire in wildlife management, several case studies, roles of fire management agencies, and increasing stakeholder involvement.
The recent increase of wildfires in the southern Great Plains has illustrated a need for development and application of fuels (vegetation) management techniques in the region. Fuels management is crucial to fire suppression and fire fighter safety, as the amount of fuel directly influences flame lengths. Flame lengths, in turn, are among the primary factors used to describe fire intensity, which has a direct impact on the ability to suppress wildfires.
The increasing frequency and intensity of wildland and wildland-urban interface (WUI) fires have become a significant concern in many parts of the United States and around the world. To address and manage this WUI fire risk, local fire departments around the country have begun to acquire the appropriate equipment and offer more training in wildfire response and suppression. There is also growing recognition of the importance of wildfire mitigation and public outreach about community risk reduction. Using survey and interview data from 46 senior officers from local fire departments around the U.S., this report describes how some local fire departments are addressing the wildfire peril in terms equipment, training, fitness, response strategies and tactics, public communication, education, and mitigation activities. The successes and challenges these departments have experienced also show how departments face and overcome barriers to being better prepared and ready to control and mitigate a wildfire incident in their communities.
We are excited to present an annotated bibliography of patch burn grazing citations. This document is the result of refining Stephen Winter’s periodic updated bibliographies on patch burn grazing. It includes papers representing original research, review and synthesis papers, theses, and a dissertation.
A citation tracker is available online that will allow you to help us update this document in the future. You can add any citations that we are missing into the citation tracker and we hope to periodically update the annotated bibliography. The citation tracker can be reached through the link in the annotated bibliography PDF, and a link on the GP Fire Science Exchange website will soon be available as well.
We are also working to make FRAMES (an online fire database; linked in the annotated bibliography PDF) work better for you. FRAMES is updating keywords and adding new references to match this bibliography as well as a pyric herbivory section that was drafted but not included in the attached document. You can now click on fire and grazing themed searches right from the GP Fire Science Website!
Smoke Signals is a quarterly newsletter published by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Branch of Wildland Fire Management at the National Interagency Fire Center. The newsletter, written by authors from across Indian Country, highlights activities and accomplishments taking place in the forestry and wildland fire management programs.
The link below will take you to a recent newsletter describing fire weather products for Oklahoma. Now is a great time to get familiar with these tools to prepare yourself for upcoming burns.
Using fire during the growing season is a promising new way to manage sericea lespedeza in tallgrass prairies. Growing season burns offer advantages beyond sericea control, including easier to contain fires and a second chance to burn acres omitted during the dormant season.
A sandbox can be used as a teaching tool for prescribed burning education. Often learning is best achieved when participants can visually work out a procedure rather than simply discussing it.
The course is divided into seven educational sections with a wrap-up section at the end. Each section includes reading materials, activities, and videos. You can complete the sections in any order. Upon successful completion of all sections and passing the comprehensive quiz at the end, you will receive a certificate for the Prescribed Rangeland Burning course. You will also be ready to attend a hands-on burning workshop.
Basic Prescribed Fire Training is an online course for landowners, land managers, state/federal agency personnel. In this course participants will develop a basic knowledge of the use, application and effects of prescribed fire.
The Arkansas River Valley Wildland Fire Academy operates at Arkansas Tech University. With an average attendance of over 300 students, the academy strives to meet the diverse needs of all firefighters by providing a well-rounded, safe and welcoming learning environment. Our mission is to enhance the abilities and skills of each firefighter in attendance.
This year the academy is offering courses for wildland firefighters from all wildland fire agencies ranging from 4 to 40 hours in length. Each course is taught by instructors from state and federal agencies, allowing the academy to provide unique experiences as well as a wealth of professional knowledge and abilities to each course.
The Prescribed Fire Training Center (PFTC) is a unique program blending maximum field prescribed burning experience with a flexible curriculum of classroom instruction on foundational topics for prescribed fire practitioners. Participants will have the opportunity to complete portions of their National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) approved prescribed fire task books under the guidance of invited training specialists.
The Midwest Wildfire Training Academy (MWTA) is held in Jefferson City, Missouri each June. Emergency responders and wildland firefighters can focus on developing the practical skills training they need in their professions.
Monitoring your management treatments, including fire, is important. Monitoring helps you to understand if your treatments have allowed you to reach your goals.
The University of Idaho now offers 14 online courses in Fire Ecology and Management, including many graduate courses. Students can complete a Masters of Natural Resources (MNR) with an emphasis in Fire Ecology, entirely online. The MNR program is for designed for working professionals. It is course-based, requiring 30 credits and a professional project.
Ben Wheeler has produced a really nice publication on fire breaks. He reviews several construction types and provides criteria for choosing and implementing them.
A Forest Stewards Guild report in partnership with Promise PCES LLC. May 2017
Naturally occurring fires have historically been an important factor in determining plant and animal distribution and composition in Missouri. While natural fires are random and uncontrolled, prescribed burning is the process of applying a controlled fire to a predetermined area to meet certain goals and objectives. Prescribed fire is used as a tool to manage natural communities and planted grass stands. It can set back succession by controlling woody invasion, improve wildlife habitat by stimulating desirable and suppressing undesirable plant species, improve poor grazing distribution, and reduce wildfire risk. Other uses of prescribed burning include preparing sites for planting or seeding, removing slash or debris, and enhancing seed production of target plant species.
This review summarizes the fire effects information and relevant ecology of greater sage-grouse and Gunnison sage-grouse in North America that was available in the scientific literature as of 2016.
If you missed the 2014 Patch Burn Grazing field meeting in Grand Island, NE, you can still get a flavor for the presentations. Due to technical difficulties we did not capture the audio, but you can still see lots of great content in the presentations. I am confident that the authors will be happy to talk with you more about the work they shared. The PowerPoint presentations have been converted to .pdf files for better file management.
The Prairie Project has transferred from a K-12 educational website to a central location for all information regarding the prairie ecosystem.
FireWorks is an educational program about the science of wildland fire, designed for students in grades 1-10. The program consists of a curriculum and a trunk of materials, including laboratory equipment, specimens, CDs, books, and kits of specialized materials for teachers. Content focuses on the physical science of fire behavior, human influences on fire, and fire ecology in the northern Rocky Mountains and North Cascades.
Return To Tradition, this video is the second in a series from The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) regional office out of Oklahoma. The focus is on how to fireproof a property.
Watch tribal elders discuss how fire was used for land management.
This is the third of three Fireguard videos. These videos are designed to help land owners and managers build effective fireguards. This particular video is addressing black lining. These videos are to be used as learning tools and necessarily show mistakes made by the crews shown. That is why we are showing them. They are intended for grassland systems. Thanks to the Doane College Prescribed Burn Program, The Konza Prairie Biological Station, Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center and the Nebraska Tri-County Burn Association. The Video was shot with The Fire Cam Mini HD from Fire Cam Products.
This is the second of several fireguard videos. This video is designed to help land owners and managers build effective fireguards. These videos are to be used as learning tools and necessarily show mistakes made by the crews shown. That is why we are showing them. They are intended for grassland systems.
This is the first of several Fireguard videos. This video is designed to help land owners and managers build effective fireguards. These videos are to be used as learning tools and necessarily show mistakes made by the crews in the footage. That is why we are showing them.
Part 3 of 3. How can agencies, institutions and tribal cultures communicate about issues that relate to ecology and lifeways when the terms can mean different things? Is it learning how to talk or how to listen?
Part 2 of 3. Elders, scientists and cultural leaders discuss the effects of climate change on the earth, culture and peoples and the differences between western science and traditional ecological principles.
Part 1 of a 3 part series. Elders and forest professionals discuss the traditional and contemporary uses of fire and challenges to forest management practices.
The “Braids of Truth” video series resulted from a meeting that occurred in June 2010 between tribal leaders, scientists, resource managers, and academics. The goal was to integrate traditional Native American stewardship with current scientific knowledge to find ways to manage land while preserving culture and natural resources.
Our northern mixed grass prairie video was taken at Ft. Keogh, Montana. The Agricultural Research Service research station hosted the camera in 2015. 2015 was a drought year so the plant productivity was less than normal.
You asked for it! We heard you ask for a photo series that captures the recovery of tallgrass prairie after a burn. We now have time lapse videos of the tallgrass and northern mixed grass prairies showing changes to the plant communities post-burn.
The tallgrass video was taken over the course of a year at a Kansas State University Prairie in the Flint Hills (Rannells pasture near Manhattan, Kansas). The burn occurred in the spring and the camera was raised as the plants grew.
Months of drought and driving winds contributed to raging wildfires that destroyed almost half a million acres of the Texas Panhandle in March 2006. Thanks to timely rains in the year after the fire, the land is well on the way to recovery. See how the people, the land and the wildlife have been affected by this unprecedented disaster. (this segment can be seen on the Texas Parks & Wildlife television show the week of July 24-31, 2011 on the Texas PBS stations)
This video is the fourth in a series describing fire in the Great Plains. The series features ranchers in the region and local experts discussing prescribed fire. This video focuses on the value of working with neighbors and prescribed fire associations to complete burns on private lands.
This video is the third in a series describing fire in the Great Plains. The series features ranchers in the region and local experts discussing prescribed fire. This video focuses on challenges land owners face when using prescribed fire. Ranchers talk about how they overcome those challenges.
This video is the second in a series describing fire in the Great Plains. The series features ranchers in the region and local experts discussing prescribed fire. This video focuses on how to get started using prescribed fire. Learning how to burn can be a daunting proposition, but making use of landowner resources and local expertise can make the process easier.
This video is the first in a series describing fire in the Great Plains. The series features ranchers in the region and local experts discussing prescribed fire. This video focuses on the need for burning grasslands in the region.
This video on fire behavior discusses structural vs. wildland fire operations, methods of heat transfer, fuel types and effects, weather, topography and how it effects wildland fire, and extreme fire behavior. Find out more at: http://www.firewise.org/
A Prescribed Fire Association is a group of landowners and other concerned citizens that form a partnership to conduct prescribed burns. Prescribed burning is the key land management tool used to restore and maintain native plant communities to their former diversity and productivity for livestock production and wildlife habitat. Native prairies, shrublands, and forests supply the majority of livestock forage and 99.9 percent of the wildlife habitat in Oklahoma. Without fire, native plant communities become dysfunctional and unproductive. Research has clearly shown that there is no substitute for fire. Oklahoma’s ecosystems are fire dependent and not burning is poor land management.
This fact sheet from Oklahoma State University describes the use of firebreaks in prescribed burning
This fact sheet describes a variety of plants that can be used in fire-resistant landscaping.
This document provides an overview of the use of prescribed fire in grassland management. It describes the history and importance of fire in grasslands, plant responses to fire, and potential benefits of fire. Fire planning, safety, and legal concerns are summarized. In addition, guidance on special uses of fire is provided.
Tobosagrass is a productive, but coarse and generally unpalatable grass. Distribution extends from western Texas through southern New Mexico to southeastern Arizona and north-central Mexico. An important characteristic of tobosagrass is perennial stems; these stems and the unpalatable nature of tobosagrass ensure that large quantities of standing dead grass accumulate. This manual describes management practices for tobosagrass rangeland.
A new fact sheet for managing sand sagebrush in rangeland is available from Oklahoma State University. There is a nice section about fire; take a look.
This fact sheet describes the use of patch burn grazing (PBG) to alter fuel structure and continuity. Burning in this manner has the potential to slow the spread of fire, thus decreasing wildfire risk.
If you are considering burning rangeland for the first time, you may think that a detailed planning process seems largely unnecessary. You may be thinking:
“I’ll wait until after frost and burn out the southwest 40 acres of the back pasture. If I burn when there’s no wind, I won’t need any help. I can drive the cows to the other side of the Section Pasture and shoot a gun a few times to scare out the deer so they won’t burn up. And the belly-high broomweeds should burn hot enough to kill most of the mesquite, whitebrush, and prickly pear.”
Wait a minute—this thinking contains at least eight misconceptions, including those dealing with timing, wind, help, fuel, expected brush kill, grazing management, the size of the burn, and its impact on wildlife habitat. If you burned using this plan, you would probably never burn rangeland again on purpose because of the risks taken and the potential for disappointing results.
Effective planning well in advance is vital for achieving the beneficial effects of a prescribed burn. The elements of a plan are described in Extension publication E-37, Prescribed Range Burning in Texas, which is available from your county Extension agent or on the web at http://agrilifebookstore.org.
This publication from Texas A&M Agrilife Extension contains more information and a checklist to use when planning a prescribed burn.
It is well-known that fire has historically played an important role in creating and maintaining ecosystems in the Midwest. In landscapes where fire has been suppressed or where invasive and exotic plant species have taken hold, prescribed fire is a useful tool for restoring native plant communities.
This management technique can be valuable for increasing suitable habitat for some herpetofauna. However, there is a growing body of evidence that it may also be damaging to resident populations of reptiles and amphibians. When planning prescribed fires, habitat managers should consider the needs of all parts of existing floral and faunal communities. Maintenance of native animal populations, particularly vulnerable, rare, or threatened species, deserve as much attention as the manipulation of plant communities toward a predetermined goal. To assist land managers concerned about the impacts of fire on herpetofauna, the Midwest Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) provide the following recommendations to promote effective use of prescribed fire in ecosystem restoration.
Watch this video to see a demonstration using hay bales to show how prescribed fires are conducted.
This fact sheet is a description of small burn demonstrations that can be developed for teaching students about fire. With a sandbox, show arena, and some dry hay, Dave Redden developed this method for reaching school children and 4-H members.
The linked fact sheet helps to clarify the various ways that wind speed is measured. Texas regulations for wind speed are also described.
For years, fire department administrators have struggled to find an alternative to having firefighters ride on the outside of a moving vehicle to spray wild fires.
Using a remote control nozzle is one alternative. Following research and design, the Kansas Forest Service Fire Shop has produced the first Kansas Forest Service remote wildland fire monitor. Its components are readily available and inexpensive.
Integrated management of eastern redcedar on pasture and grasslands should be based on a combination of cultural, mechanical, biological and chemical tools to keep this tree from continuing to spread while protecting grassland production and profits. Tree height should be used as a determining factor for control options. Burning, cutting, digging, mowing, use of goats and broadcast herbicide application are effective on trees up to 2 feet tall. Cutting and individual tree herbicide treatments work well on eastern redcedar 2-10 feet tall. Trees over 10 feet in height are most effectively and economically controlled by cutting. The bottom line is "control trees while they are small."
When considering components such as fuels, topography, and regulations that must be taken into account before conducting a prescribed burn, one factor is completely beyond our control: weather. This publication lists several resources that provide detailed current weather information for a given location.
The tallgrass prairie is one of the most endangered ecosystems in North America. Prescribed burning, the practice of planning and conducting a burn to achieve pre-identified management objectives, was practiced by Native Americans prior to European settlement. Modern grassland managers also burn, using a blend of ecosystem science and practical management to maintain the expansive landscapes of the Great Plains.
Information on the Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan can be found at http://www.ksfire.org. And additional resources are at http://GPFireScience.org.
John Weir, Oklahoma State University, discusses research from cattle grazing after a prescribed burn.
John Weir, Oklahoma State University, discusses research on how to control brush on a prairie
John Weir, Oklahoma State University, discusses the results of research from the areas that aren't burned in the Season of Burn plots.
John Weir, Oklahoma State University, discusses research in controlling sericea lespedeza by using prescribed burning.
John Weir, Oklahoma State University, discusses research on the effects of prescirbed burning during different seasons of the year.
This planning guide is the result of an international collaboration between researchers, various stakeholders, and fire practitioners. It contains information on evaluating and building trust among stakeholders with specific applications to fire management. The guide includes a discussion of the importance of trust, strategies for building trust, examples of fire management situations in which trust played a role, and an assessment tool for fire management personnel.
This recent survey summarizes the activity, needs, and safety records of 27 Prescribed Burn Associations (PBAs) in the Great Plains. Take a look through this valuable and relevant information; it's well worth your time.
Read our summary of recent research identifying and comparing elements of traditional fire knowledge across cultures throughout history.
Prescribed fire liability standards vary from state to state and legal terms can sometimes be confusing. This fact sheet describes the different standards of care applied in prescribed burning‐related lawsuits.
Prescribed fire affects wildlife in various ways. Population responses by species can be positive, negative, or neutral, short-term or long-term, and they often vary across spatial scales. Whereas prescribed fire can create or maintain habitats for some species, it can also remove or alter conditions in ways that render it unsuitable for other species. Furthermore, a species may benefit from fire in one situation but not another. Given the variations in fire and in species responses, the only real generalization one can make is that exceptions occur.
As redcedar encroaches and increases in canopy cover, species diversity that is endemic to grasslands collapses and production of herbaceous biomass (forage) underneath decreases, resulting in a loss of livestock carrying capacity (Smith and Stubbendieck 1990; Engle et al. 1987; Limb et al. 2010; Twidwell et al. 2013a).
The "cut and stuff" practice is an addition of ladder fuels that can increase fire intensity and create longer flames needed to control larger trees, thus increasing the overall effectiveness of most prescribed burns.
The Great Plains of North America has experienced exponential increases in wildfires since 1985, with a 400% increase in area burned and more than 300% increase in number of wildfires.
The Great Plains of the US is characterized by grassland communities. Fire plays an important role in maintaining these grasslands. However, it has been
difficult to understand how much fire occurs in the Great Plains and how fire occurrence might vary across the region.
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.
This is an interesting question given the diversity of standards in legislation and regulations related to certified prescribed burn managers (CPBM) across the region. 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.
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.
Victoria Donovan of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln presenting a webinar for the Great Plains Fire Science Association.