MAKENZIE’S OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: Benefits of prescribed burns

Makenzie's Outdoor Adventures: Benefits of prescribed burns - 6/28/2019

LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) -From plants to wildlife, there are many benefits to a prescribed burn.

7 News Anchor Makenzie Burk participated in one as part of her Outdoor Adventures.

We learn at an early age to steer clear of fire. But it actually has some remarkable benefits.

“Fire is important to keep plant communities vibrant, healthy, to keep the wildlife habitat, and support the wildlife,” said Michael Porter, Senior Wildlife and Fisheries Consultant. “Without fire, native plant communities change in undesirable ways.”

Oftentimes after a burn, livestock and wildlife can be seen grazing over that area. Porter says fire is like an instant food plot for hunting.

“You burn an area and it will draw the game,” said Porter. “It will draw cattle, it will draw deer, turkeys. They’re attracted to fresh growth after a burn. It’s much more nutritious, much more tasty. It’s probably better than most foods you could plant.”

Without fire, areas can become overrun with invasive species making it unattractive to wildlife.

“Deer need both open areas and woody areas,” said Porter. “And without fire you lose that mix. You end up with mostly just brush. So we need fire to maintain the plant community in the stage we want.”

Fire can improve the quality of our drinking water, and reduce the tick population. And strangely enough, fire can help control fire.

“We can use it to reduce the risk of wildfire,” said John Weir, Prescribed Fire Specialist. “Reducing fuel, reducing volatile fuel, reducing eastern red cedar, that make fires a lot more dangerous, a lot more harder to contain and control.”

Weir says conducting a burn is not something you do on a whim.

“Planning is the most important part,” said Weir. “And planning should start 6 months to a year out. When are we going to do it? Why are we going to do it? How many people we need? How much equipment we need? What actual tract of land we are going to do? What kind of fire breaks are we going to do?”

Wind speed and humidity are some of the variables that are taken into account as well. If you have questions about how a prescribed burn is done or need help planning one you can call your local county extension office.

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