Great Plains Prescribed Fire Summit
Our native ecosystem in the Southern Great Plains evolved with the impacts of fire. To the soils, plants and animals that comprise our native ecosystem, fire is as natural as sunshine and rain. Fire suppression over the past century or so is causing many negative impacts. The spread of eastern redcedar is nothing more than a “green dust bowl” engulfing many areas of the Southern Great Plains. Fire suppression has also reduced habitat for numerous wildlife species, especially prairie obligate and pollinator species, forage production for livestock, watershed quality and degraded human health due to increased pollen activity and increasing the threat of wildfires. One needs to look no further than western Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas for examples of tragic wildfires over the last few years. Additionally, with the absence of fire over time, native plant structure and diversity becomes unsuitable for supporting numerous wildlife species and livestock.
Despite the fact that fire is an integral to our native ecosystem it is not readily used across the majority of the Southern Great Plains. Fear of liability, lack of education, training and equipment prevents most landowners from applying fire to their property. The need for more fire is an issue that should take priority across the Southern Great Plains in order to bring benefits not only to landowners, but also to our native ecosystem that benefit all citizens.
The Noble Research Institute, Oklahoma State University and the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute are partnering to bring the 2nd Biennial Great Plains Fire Summit to Ardmore, OK on October 1 – 3. The purpose of the Summit is to promote the use of prescribed fire by creating an opportunity for landowners, agencies and NGOs to network and discuss the benefits and effectiveness of prescribed burning for the sustainability of our plant, livestock and wildlife resources. The opening plenary session of noted speakers will set the stage for the following breakout sessions that will cover prescribed fire prescriptions, planning, smoke management, wildlife impacts, and livestock production. There will be an equipment demonstration during the social on the first evening and another highlight of the Summit, a tour of the Edgerock Ranch in the Arbuckle Mountains on day two to look at how fire is being used to improve the land for livestock and wildlife.
Mark your calendar now in order to make plans to attend this important and informative event.