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Burn Baby Burn


The arrival of an early spring has put one song on replay in my head, “Disco Inferno” by the Trampps.  At Pheasants Forever, it’s the theme song of spring.  


Controlled burning in early spring accomplishes two main objectives in habitat management.  First, burning limits the growth of woody and other unwanted vegetation, thereby maintaining the prairie as a distinct ecosystem.  Second, prescribed burning releases the nutrients bound in the plant litter, stimulating vigorous new growth. 


A Pheasants Forever prescribed burn to reinvigorate grassland habitat.

Grass burns can be very dangerous if not done properly.  Grasses produce extremely hot fires and can spread rapidly.  Pheasants Forever’s habitat specialists and chapter volunteer burn crews are trained in completing safe and effective prescribed burns in many of the pheasant range states.


Prescribed burning can be an especially important tool in the mid-contract management of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands, as well as on state and federally managed wildlife lands. 


What’s the biggest limitation to utilizing prescribed fire as a habitat management tool? 

The answer: the general public does not understand the value of prescribed fire to the prairie ecosystem.  Fire is widely viewed as bad. 


A Pheasants Forever burn crew

Stop and think about it for a moment; what maintained prairies as unique ecosystems prior to urbanization?  The answer: massive grass fires started by lightning.


When it comes to habitat, fire is our friend.  So, BURN BABY BURN!


The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.


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2 Responses to “Burn Baby Burn”

  1. Mark ehmke says:

    Hi I have a marshy area that I would love to burnout. But the problem is that there’s about 6 feet of peet. Anything I can do as far as burning it off?

  2. @Mark,
    I asked Dennis Pederson, Pheasants Forever habitat specialist, for a little help answering your prescribed burning question. Here’s the response from Dennis:

    Mark’s most obvious issue – there may be others – is the risk in and danger of starting the peat burning. Not knowing his location, I don’t know what his moisture situation is, but almost all of the southern part of the state (Minnesota) is dry, dry, dry. That may mean that the six feet of peat in his marshy area is all dried out. If so, it would be very ill advised to burn the marsh under those conditions.

    The thing he wants to be sure of is that the peat layer – or at least the top two feet or so – is very, very wet when he does his fire. If it’s wet, he’ll be okay. If it’s all dried out, he’ll set the peat on fire and it will burn for a long, long time. Not good.

    Dennis Pederson | Habitat Specialist
    p. (320) 564-0100 | dpederson@pheasantsforever.org


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