I have been talking to a conservationist about things I can do to help enhance the habitat on my little property. My place is an island of almost exclusively oak and hickory timber with one small clover plot fringed by tall grass. The area surrounding mine is a mix of ag. crops, pasture and CRP. I am always looking for ways to make my place diverse and attractive to wildlife. Unfortunately I always have to qualify my questions with the fact that I am very limited in my budget and equipment.
My conservationist did not even hesitate. "Controlled burn", was his simple answer. He explained that it is one of the best ways to open the landscape to natural new growth. Since my property was an oak savanna prior to European settlement and he said that with persistent controlled burning over a series of years, you can actually restore this type of landscape.
I decided to give it a try this weekend. Working alone, I was able to burn off about a half acre of grass and 1.5 acres of timber in one morning. In all the little projects I have tried, I have never been able to transform such a large area in so little time, with so little effort. I am really excited about watching things regenerate this spring and am even more excited about what kind of benefit this will have in the fall. If it goes well, I will expand my burn project next year.
NOTE: I am a professional firefighter and I have plenty of experience in dealing with these things, and even I have had some close calls with grass/brush fires. DO NOT attempt to do a burn before you have done your homework.