NC Wildlife Commission Conducts Prescribed Burns to Benefit Wildlife and Habitat

Posted: February 10, 2016 by gamegetterII in Uncategorized

The exact same type of “damage” that the Hammonds caused to fed land…

RALEIGH, N.C. — Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And where there’s fire, at least on a N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission game land, there’s usually a prescribed burn — one of the best and most cost-effective methods of managing habitat for wildlife.

A prescribed burn, or an intentional burning of vegetation under strict and specific circumstances, helps restore and maintain wildlife habitat. It is a cost-effective tool that the Commission uses to create and maintain suitable and ample wildlife habitat on game lands throughout the state.

The most common prescribed burns conducted by the Commission are restoration burns and maintenance burns. Restoration burns are done on fire-dependent habitats that haven’t been burned in years. Maintenance burns are repeated burns that restore and maintain fire-adapted habitats.

Commission staff typically conducts maintenance burns in multi-year cycles to open groundcover for quail, grassland birds, deer and turkeys. Many of North Carolina’s declining or rare wildlife species are adapted to and found only in fire-dependent habitat.

Many prescribed burns, also called controlled burns, are conducted between January and March when trees are less active metabolically. Some burns are conducted into spring and summer as warm season burning provides for better control of young hardwoods.

“Burning encourages production of native grasses and herbaceous vegetation, which provides valuable food and cover for a wide variety of wildlife species,” said Isaac Harrold, the Commission’s lands program manager. “Animals like deer browse on groundcover. Quail and songbirds utilize seed produced by native plants. Quail and other species, such as turkeys and rabbits, use the groundcover for nesting.”

Many times during a burn, the Commission gets calls from people who are concerned about animals not being able to escape the fire, particularly during turkey hunting season in the spring.

“We use burning techniques that ensure animals have time and room to escape,” said Harrold. After we burn an area, we typically see regeneration of vegetation within a few weeks and animals returning to the burn site shortly after.”

Prescribed burns are also used to help reduce high levels of forest fuels that can cause deadly wildfires and to control disease and insects, such as brownspot disease in long leaf pine seedlings and cone beetles in white pines.

For more information on prescribed burns, read “Using Fire to Improve Wildlife Habitat,” by the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service. For more information on the Wildlife Resources Commission, including an interactive game land map, visit www.ncwildlife.org.

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