controlled burn

haymaker

Well-known member
Well it has been too quiet on here so maybe this will change that. As I understand the story the South Dakota GFP had a controlled burn in Mcpherson county today. Also today as we are in a very dry situation there was a long line of trucks and trailers at the sale barn as cattlemen are starting to liquidate their herds. First point, how many pheasant nests were destroyed? This was a two mile by two mile burn, a little over 2500 acres. Second point how much revenue could have been raised by renting that to area cattlemen on the condition that they mob graze it and get off quick. By grazing they could have accomplished nearly the same thing and improved the biology in the soil instead of damaging it. I would also like to mention that it was fairly windy and we are dry. Some how they managed to keep it controlled. If the pyros have to burn could they not patch burn and leave some cover for the wildlife. I have never had much respect for our GFP and this did not add any. What say you?
 

UGUIDE

New member
Thanks for posting. Here's some thoughts:

- Better to burn than not burn
- Mob graze is great alternative but the 160 acre Gov ground I saw grazed for two springs in a row produced zilch for two years. Looks great now but....
- Burns produce enhanced cover quickly. For mid summer nesting , fall hunting and winter cover.
- Burns produce results grazing does not and vice versa
-If you're a cattle guy you hit a nail with a cow:cheers::D
 

haymaker

Well-known member
The source of my information is a guy on the Eureka fire dept. He said it was to be a two mile by two mile burn. It would be more work. It would have saved more nests. Where is the PETA equivalent for pheasants? Even the GFP should try to be good neighbors.
 

haymaker

Well-known member
So I have to correct my initial statement. It was US Fish and Wildlife, not the GFP that did the burn. That changes things some. My apology to the GFP for not checking this out first.
 

McTosh

New member
I was up there in late March, snow was off, would have burnt fine then and probably would be good nesting cover by now. Would have been a safer more controlled burn with less risk of spreading then too given the current moderate drought conditions. Haymaker is correct, better options were available if a planning effort with pheasants and other wildlife considerations would have been applied.
 

haymaker

Well-known member
The Feds march to the beat of a different drum.

Haymaker, DU is partnering with NRCS on a new program. No details yet. I know you will be stoked about that!

I am on the board of the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition. We are actually working with DU and a few other organizations to promote the common good that is healthy soil.
 

McFarmer

Active member
I was up there in late March, snow was off, would have burnt fine then and probably would be good nesting cover by now. Would have been a safer more controlled burn with less risk of spreading then too given the current moderate drought conditions. Haymaker is correct, better options were available if a planning effort with pheasants and other wildlife considerations would have been applied.

I've found the later the burn, the better the cool season invasive species are controlled.

These governmental organizations have a longer time frame they are working with.
 

3car

Member
I can answer all of these questions but I will need some specifics on which burn your talking about. I don't think it was the GFP and It was no were near 2500 acres. I sent haymaker a pm if you want to talk as well.
 

Schlag

New member
Just remember that if the Feds do it....They do not care about Pheasants one bit. Just spent some time talking to a life long wildlife biologist. Pheasants are considered Exotics in the eye of the Feds and they can not spend any money managing exotics. There work is for native species only. Yes pheasants can benefit most of the time but they are not the focus of any management.
 

3car

Member
https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/5169/35190/

Why Burn in May?

Incident: East River TREX 2017 Prescribed Fire
Released: 5/5/2017
Spring is a time of new vegetative growth and nesting for many species of birds. However, spring can also be an optimal time for using fire as a management tool to make quality habitat improvements.

Biologists within the Great Plains Fire Management Zone uses vegetation surveys to determine what to burn, where, and, most importantly, when the best time to implement a prescribed fire may be in order to receive optimal benefits. Timing is key; many of the native cool season grasses can outcompete non-native grasses given the right management actions and timing. Because two non-native grasses, Smooth Brome and Kentucky Blue Grass, start growing at a cooler temperature than most native cool season grasses, biologists and managers consider the best time to conduct a prescribed fire to set back the non-natives that can dominate and negatively impact an area while promoting desirable native plants.

Kentucky Blue Grass creates a mat or “slick” as it grows, keeping water from penetrating into the soil. It creates a more difficult environment for the native cool and warm season grasses to establish and grow. Smooth brome provides a sparse and shorter cover and can result in poor waterfowl and pheasant nesting success because of the lack of aerial cover it offers. Large tracts of these grasses lack the diversity of vegetation needed to allow a variety of species to thrive. Ducks can generally adapt to change and survive without specific and frequent management actions, though it may not be at the same level as it would with enhanced habitat management. Other species, such as grassland birds and monarchs, can be severely impacted without regular, effective habitat treatments. They need a higher quality and diverse habitat to perpetuate and thrive.

Burn plans list objectives for each potential prescribed fire. The timing of a prescribed fire may depend on whether the objective is to promote native cool season or native warm season grasses. By having a number of burn plans ready to go during the TREX, fire managers and biologists can work together to look at the sequence of scheduled prescribed fires and set priorities for which units to burn if weather conditions allow.

Wildlife and habitat managers know a spring prescribed fire has the potential to destroy established bird nests. However, if a prescribed fire is done early enough, it might be completed before some of the smaller birds have started nesting. Ducks like pintails or mallards will usually renest if the first one is unsuccessful due to fire, flooding, predation, or other causes of loss. Though each subsequent nest may have fewer eggs than the one before, some species may renest 3-5 times in the spring if needed. Pheasants, too, are prolific at renesting. The short term loss of nests due to a fire yields a much greater long-term gain by providing productive nesting habitat in the years to come.

Many of the region’s waterfowl production areas (WPAs) show signs of degradation due to a lack of burning. One of the key benefits of the TREX is that it allows a number of units to be treated with fire within the same window of time, keeping fire on the landscape at the optimal time of year to greatly improve habitat and waterfowl production in the Prairie Potholes region.
 

UGUIDE

New member
3Car,

Thanks for taking the time to begin to educate us on the various objectives and practices associated with conducting burns. I think maybe burn when they can but few burn when they should based on the correct objectives.

Thanks for your efforts and education.
 

Prairie Drifter

Well-known member
3car, great post! There are so many facets to range management. There are also a lot of misunderstandings when it comes to fire. Loss of potential nesting is largely offset by improved conditions for several following years. Further, the habitat that follows is more resilient to stress and also more healthy. Those plants are the base of the food pyramid and making that foundation strong makes the pyramid larger/taller!
 

haymaker

Well-known member
3car, great post! There are so many facets to range management. There are also a lot of misunderstandings when it comes to fire. Loss of potential nesting is largely offset by improved conditions for several following years. Further, the habitat that follows is more resilient to stress and also more healthy. Those plants are the base of the food pyramid and making that foundation strong makes the pyramid larger/taller!

When you folks burn do you run a PLFA test on the soil before and after to monitor the effect on the biology?
 
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Prairie Drifter

Well-known member
We have study after study documenting the benefits of prescribed burns on prairie ecosystems and our burn season is so crammed with demands on our time, that I don't think there would be any benefit to doing so. Plenty of those results in the literature. With all the competing demands with turkey season, fishing season ramping up, hiring summer help, dewatering marshes, working fire breaks, cattle stocking, and the list goes on, we try to get as many acres gone over in our rotation as we can get days to burn.
 

haymaker

Well-known member
We have study after study documenting the benefits of prescribed burns on prairie ecosystems and our burn season is so crammed with demands on our time, that I don't think there would be any benefit to doing so. Plenty of those results in the literature. With all the competing demands with turkey season, fishing season ramping up, hiring summer help, dewatering marshes, working fire breaks, cattle stocking, and the list goes on, we try to get as many acres gone over in our rotation as we can get days to burn.

Can you help me find that in the literature? Point me in the right direction.
 

Prairie Drifter

Well-known member
I'll dig some out of my files for you. For starters, google OSU patch burn. Lot of data there. Might also google KSU prescribed burns. Also plenty of videos on youtube about fire and prairie health.
 
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