Prescribed fire is a very valuable practice for Nebraska’s rangelands and prairies. Farmers in Central Platte NRD are having great success using fire to improve their pastures. It does entail some risk, which is why safety training and proper equipment are necessary. Since 2005 Central Platte NRD has had an important role in helping departments and landowners obtain safety training. We have facilitated more than 40 training events, from evening firefighter sessions to NWCG fire training, serving hundreds of local landowners and firefighters.
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Central Platte NRD facilitated three fire department trainings in 2017. These were located at Amherst, Wood River, and Cozad NE. Topics included:
- Safe weather for burning.
- Obtaining fire weather forecasts.
- Boundary line specifications and construction
- Concurrent ignition and holding techniques.
- Role and Importance of personal protective safety equipment.
There were 32 attendees total for this year. Firefighters attended from the following departments: Alda, Wood River, Doniphan, Amherst, Cozad, Grand Island Rural.
Because of the limited time frame, these sessions do not cover all necessary information related to prescribed burning. There is no exam. The sessions are also tailored to the request of each department to fit the needs for their district. For example, one department was interested in firing operations and how they might be used for suppression, while another department was interested in how the large pasture burns in central Nebraska are being conducted. Universally, we do have an objective of increasing the understanding of basic prescribed burn safety principles. This is to help fire districts and landowners to prevent escaped fires, and resulting damages or injuries.
Prescribed fire can be a valuable tool in the maintenance and improvement of native grasslands. Rangeland areas that have not had fire occurrence are often sites of problems involving invasive species. The invasive species, such as Eastern Red Cedar, can take away natural grassland acres that are necessary for grazing as well as for wildlife. Rangelands that are always grazed in the fall or winter with no spring treatment may also become areas dominated by native and non-native cool season grasses and invasive weeds. These areas offer a reduced food value to live-stock and are of reduced value to native wildlife.
When prescribed fire is used along with appropriate grazing practices, the results are increased economic output and wildlife benefit. Fields that are moderately grazed and treated with periodic burns are more drought tolerant, more diverse in plant and wildlife species, more productive in late summer, at less risk for devastating summer wildfire, and at less risk for runoff and erosion.
For questions or more information, contact David Carr at (308) 385-6282 or email email@example.com.
Central Platte NRD implemented the program in 2004 and developed a cost share program in an effort to help landowners treat their rangelands with the implementation of burns. The NRD’s fire crew conducts and assists landowners and other agencies with prescribed burns. Since the inception of the program, the NRD fire crew has conducted over 200 burns and over 18,000 acres. When prescribed fire is used along with appropriate grazing practices, the results are increased economic output and wildlife benefit. Fields that are moderately grazed and treated with periodic burns are more drought tolerant, more diverse in plant and wildlife species, more productive in late summer, at less risk for devastating summer wildfire, and at less risk for runoff and erosion. CPNRD has conducted over 40 training events with over 600 students trained.
The cost of a prescribed burn by the Central Platte NRD fire crew is:
– $10 per acre for the first 40 acres – $5 per acre for anything over 40 acres
There is a minimum charge of $300 per burn. Cost Share Application
PURPOSE OF PRESCRIBED FIRE
• control undesirable vegetation
• prepare sites for harvesting, planting or seeding
• control plant disease
• reduce wildfire hazards
• improve wildlife habitat
• improve plant production quantity and/or plant quality
• remove slash and debris
• enhance seed and seedling production
• facilitate distribution of grazing and browsing animals
• restore and maintain ecological sites
-Setting Up Prescribed Burn Associations Video
-Cut & Stuff Practices for Enhanced Cedar Control Fact Sheet. Jointly produced by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Kansas State University Research and Extension, University of Nebraska and Oklahoma State University.
Learn How to Burn Safely UNL has the following great resources that can be ordered directly from Mike Riese: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 200- Conducting a Prescribed Burn and Burning Checklist EC-121 $134.00
- 110- Grassland Mgt. with Prescribed Fire EC 148 $110.00
- 200- Act Now or Pay Later EC-1784 $462.00
- 200- Integrated Mgt. of Eastern Red Cedar EC-186 about $400
Central Platte NRD’s 1st Prescribed Burn
In 2005, the NRD conducted its first prescribed burn near Chapman on land owned by Don and Barbara Reeves. The burn was conducted on five acres of land just across the road from their home. The Reeves’ goals to kill weed seeds and rejuvenate the natural grasses that had been planted were reached. These included: buffalograss, big bluestem, sideoats gramma, switchgrass, little blue stem and blue gramma. Don grew grasses in his greenhouse that he transplanted later that spring. Prior to the burn, the acreage had been used for grazing by his neighbors cattle. The burn helped rejuvenate wildflowers that he’d planted such as coneflowers, Mexican redhat, blanketflowers, blue easters, purple prairie clover, Illinois bungleflower, and partridge pea.
REQUIREMENTS OF PRESCRIBED FIRE
• The prescribed burn must be planned by a person(s) qualified to carry out such work.
• The prescribed burn plan must be reviewed and approved by the NRD’s Burn Coordinator before the prescribed burn can be accomplished.
• Landowner(s) will be required to obtain a valid open burning permit as per Nebraska Statute 81-520.01.
• The prescribed burn must be carried out by a qualified team or private company approved by the NRD Burn Coordinator.
• Proof of adequate insurance and landowner liability agreement will be required before any activity may be conducted under this program.
• CPNRD accepts no liability for any prescribed burn activity associated with the application,
application approval, prescribed burn approval, or the prescribed burn itself.
PROCESS OF PRESCRIBED FIRE
There are three steps involved in the successful use of prescribed fire:
Planning- An open burning permit and prescribed fire plan must be completed prior to each burn as mandated by state law. The NRD fire coordinator will be available to assure the fire plan meets all state law requirements.
Preparation- Burn unit boundaries and internal features need to be prepared prior to the burn to help ensure safety. The NRD prescribed fire coordinator will assist in making recommendations for this type of preparation. Preparation can include mowing or disking the lines or anchor points, and brush or tree removal/piling. Reduced and deferred grazing may be necessary to produce best burning conditions.
Implementation- The burn must be implemented by the NRD crew or a qualified and insured prescribed fire contractor.