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Prescribed Burns

Prescribed burns are considered as the intentional ignition of grass, shrub, or forest fuels for specific purposes according to predetermined conditions.

fire fighter burning underbrush

Objectives

The concept of treating fire with fire is not new to this century. Native Americans deliberately set fires to clear land for horticulture, to improve access, and to change the composition of the plant community to attract game species. Early settlers set fires to assist in preparing the soil for agriculture and to eliminate stubble from the fields in the fall.

The Peshtigo, Michigan, Hinckley, Yacoult and Maine fire burned hundreds of thousand of acres between 1871 and 1947. The Chicago fire in 1871, resulted in the death of 1150 people. In 1910 wildland fire in northern Idaho and Montana burned uncontrolled because of the presence of over 1700 individual fires and high winds. Because of the destruction of human life, property, and resources, the general government policy for most of this century is to utilize fire suppression.

The use of media campaigns such as Smokey the Bear and Bambi fleeing from a fire combined with fire suppression practices has resulted in a build up of fuels on our lands. Fire ecologist expect it will take many more seasons of wildfires to establish a natural fire regime.

For forest regeneration, land managers must assess the area to determine if the site needs preparation. The method select could be mechanical, chemical, biological, manual methods, prescribed fire or a combination of these methods. The method will be determined by the terrain, amount of debris present, and the method for regeneration.