When we think of wild fires, we may instantly think of infernos, like the one shown in the photograph above. We don’t focus on the vast majority of fires that either put themselves out innocently, ground fires that don’t typically cause property damage, and least of all the notion that prescribed fires are a good thing, and may be the best stewardship activity we accomplish on our property.
Smoky Bear has been wildly successful in the vast majority view that fires are bad, and must be suppressed at any cost. And yet, it is the immediate fighting of fires and the lack of fires on the landscape that “feeds the flame” if you will, guaranteeing that a catastrophic fire is inevitable.
Without regular fires, leaf and limb debris pile up, younger trees,which provide “ladders” for fire to creep up into larger tree canopies, and widespread forest disease, all take their toll. And there are those trees like lodgepole and jack pine, which need fire to provide seeds.
Our response to attempt to fire proof our property is to remove trees from the land, to create an open parkland. There is nothing with this, and with plenty of federal and state dollars to pay for fire risk reduction, thousands have taken advantage. Yet, it is possible to both retain habitat and to reduce fire’s impacts. Prescribed fires can accomplish both goals.
On a late fall day without wind, one can add controlled fire to a small landscape, and then come spring, you may see oaks respond magnificently as well as understory vegetation. Other results will include retaining your large trees for shade and wildlife habitat, allowing your trees to grow more quickly if you interested in future timber harvest, and most important, the local tree-munching insects, may not survive.
Enjoy some of the before and after prescribed burns below….and welcome to spring.