The Best Times for Prescribed Burn Habitat Management

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There are two main times of the year when you can successfully conduct a prescribed burn: during the dormant and growing seasons. Dormant-season burns are often conducted during late winter when plants, trees and shrubs are not actively sending nutrients for new growth. Conversely, spring and summer burns can be conducted to kill more above-ground vegetation.

A prescribed burn can help your land and generate new vegetation along with rejuvenating the soil.

A prescribed burn can help your land and generate new vegetation along with rejuvenating the soil.

Each provides benefits for deer management. When burning in the late winter, much of the resources are contained in the roots below ground. Old growth is burned off along with leaf litter, and as spring arrives, so too does a new wave of highly nutritious deer food. This dormant season burn effectively “top kills” the woody browse while the living root system continues to thrive.

Fire during the growing season still burns off leaf litter and sets back succession, but because some plants and shrubs are actively growing, this method will often kill hard- woods. It is commonly used when undesir- able hardwoods are still relatively young and have taken over an area.

Before you burn, determine the problem you are trying to fix and the goal you have set for the habitat. Prescribed burns are invaluable for regenerating habitat, but extreme caution must be exercised to make sure the fire stays contained.

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