Prescribed Fire Controlled Burns Benefit Wildlife and Improve Habitat

Where there’s smoke there’s fire and where
there’s fire, at least on NC Wildlife Resources Commission game land, there’s usually a prescribed
burn. A prescribed burn, or an intentional burning
of vegetation under strict and specific circumstances, helps to restore and maintain wildlife habitat. These prescribed burns benefit many outdoor
enthusiasts including hunters, birders and nature photographers. Controlled burns improve the habitat of native
wildlife such as wild turkey, deer and some endangered species. A lot of planning goes into deciding where
and when we’ll perform a prescribed fire. We typically burn on a two to three year rotation
depending on the amount of fuel that’s on the ground, the wind direction, weather parameters all determine where we are going to burn
as well as our wildlife habitat objectives. We’ve got several objectives for our prescribed
burn today. First, we are going to try and reduce the
amount of fuel on the forest floor such as pine needles and dead grasses. Second, we are out here to improve wildlife
habitat in this open grassland community that we are managing for. And third, we are trying to reinvigorate the
native grass land community. We typically conduct our prescribed burns
in two different seasons: a dormant season and a growing season. During the dormant season, our aim is to reduce
fuel. During the growing season, typically we’re
trying to improve wildlife habitat. We use drip torches, we use hand rakes and
most importantly we have water trucks on site. Prescribed fire is an extremely cost-effective
manner for managing wildlife habitat. It keeps the forest healthy, it benefits the
broadest array of wildlife and it can cost as little as $10 per acre. Residue from the burn will be used as a mineral
fertilizer for the plants and in as little as two weeks after the burn you can see they
have already started to recover. In a relatively short amount of time the native
vegetation has returned. The land has rebounded into an area that provides
food and cover for native wildlife.

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