Monday, April 17, 2017

Learnin' a Thing or Two in Nebraska

Ranchers leading a prescribed burn in Nebraska. Photo: Lenya Quinn-Davidson.
In America's heartland, prescribed fire is a long held tradition among ranchers and other landowners. The Fire Learning Network's Lenya Quinn-Davidson recently visited Nebraska as part of a prescribed fire learning exchange. 

She writes in her recent blog post that the Great Plains experiences similar issues to its western neighbors with its eastern red cedar invasion which drastically reduces plant diversity and results in the loss of other species, much to the detriment of wildlife and other values. Similarly too, fire plays an important role in Nebraska landscapes, not only beating back encroaching conifers at relatively low costs, but also creating habitat structure that favors a diverse assemblage of grassland-dependent species.  

Keeping back the eastern red cedar in grasslands and rangelands in Nebraska. Photo: Lenya Quinn-Davidson.
In Nebraska, prescribed fire has become a tool thanks to the capacities of local ranchers and farmers. This is also true in other states where prescribed burn associations have formed and grown in recent decades. This model of cooperative burning, which is based locally and driven by the landowners themselves, is one of the most promising models for landscape-level restoration and maintenance of grasslands and rangelands.  

The Cohesive Strategy encourages efforts to bring prescribed fire to landscapes that can benefit in multiple ways. Read more here about Lenya's visit to Nebraska and the interesting parallels she encountered there. 

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