There are wildfires in Florida today. Wildfire was part of the natural cycle before Columbus discovered North America. Early explorers reported riding horses for five or more days across where fire had recently burned. They also reported that they traveled 15 miles per day on average while traveling on horseback. That means a fire 75 miles across!! Obviously such fires couldn’t be tolerated today. However, the exclusion of fire from some areas for several years are responsible for the devastating fires that have occurred during the past decade.
There are several levels of intensity of prescribed fire and fire can be used to complete several different missions such as fuel reduction, habitat improvement, species maintenance, etc. Just like any tool, the more experienced the operator, the more efficient the tool.
There are several sources of education and instruction about using prescribed fire including federal, state, and county agencies along with private contractors. Just like any tool, the more complex the mission the more instruction is required.
I use prescribed fire annually at The Proving Grounds and recommend it as a tool for many of my clients. There are very few habitat types that don’t benefit from or require prescribed fire. Most prescribed fires today are on a much, much smaller scale than what the early explorers encountered. This doesn’t lessen the importance of prescribed fire, it simply requires a bit more planning.
Smokey the Bear was a great campaign at the time. It was basically a message to stop folks from setting wildfires and causing devastating damage. Unfortunately, the message has been frequently misunderstood to mean all fire is bad. Every year I answer questions such as “Doesn’t fire kill all trees?”
Many managers will be using fire this spring throughout the whitetails’ range to improve habitat. When you see smoke or the evidence of a recent fire, remember that Smokey was against wildfire, but he was not against prescribed fire. All tools can be used to do good or do bad. I’ll be using prescribed fire to improve habitat at The Proving Grounds again this spring. If you are unfamiliar with the benefits of prescribed fire, come check out The Proving Grounds and see for yourself.
Growing Deer together,