Fired Up!

Updated: Mar 18, 2021

Knowing Ahead of Time How to Control Pasture Fires with The Great Plains Fire Science Exchange

By: Sarah Loomis

The weather change in March has encouraged those who burn every spring to start planning for pasture fires. It is important to know how to handle the hot, strong-minded fires that sweep over dead forages, but knowing who and where to look for more information can be key to keeping everyone and everything safe.

“We are extending the education to the producers so they can make the best land management decisions,” Lori Bammerlin says, outreach coordinator for the Great Plains Fire Science Exchange. She works along with Carol Baldwin, who is the principal investigator & project coordinator for the publication.

Bammerlin manages the social media, coordinates workshops and creates graphic designs for the exchange while sharing information to those who are wanting to learn more about making sound decisions involving prescribed fires and range management.

“If there are requests and people say ‘Hey, I need a publication on when to burn Sericea to reduce its growth,’ I say ‘Oh here! We have a publication that we published…I will send you the link or mail it,’’’ Bammerlin says.

The Great Plains attains multiple ecosystems from the tallgrass prairie of the east and shortgrass prairie of the west, to the mixed grass prairie of the north and coastal shrublands of the south. Precipitation, climate, soils, geology and topography all contribute to regional complexity. Fire management practices and concerns vary throughout the region, but include several large-scale commonalities such as:

  • Invasive plant encroachment, due to lack of fire

  • Regulatory concerns, such as smoke management, burn bans and liability

  • Use of grassland prescribed fire techniques

  • Climate change leading to shifting vegetation

  • A growing wildland-urban interface

  • Extensive private-land ownership and numerous tribal nations

Bammerlin shares that they have an e-newsletter, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for producers to find information about practices.

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