Why Should Timberland Property Owners Consider Prescribed Fire?
Controlled burns can be an effective component of TSI, or Timber Stand Improvement (also known as Forest Stand Improvement). The USDA promotes timber and stand forest improvement efforts to improve forest health and productivity, promote the growth of wildlife habitat and food, and reduce the risk of wildfire. Timber Stand Improvement works to open up the forest’s canopy to encourage understory growth and rejuvenation, as well as improve the health of existing trees.
With prescribed burning, controlled fires are strategically set to remove excess debris, brush, and other flammable materials from the forest floor. When paired with hinge-cutting and timber clearing – strategies that reduce the forest canopy and clear the forest of select weak or damaged trees – prescribed fire is even more effective.
If you already own woodland property, you know how invasive plant species such as Japanese knotweed, kudzu vines, garlic mustard, and more have a significant impact on the health of your forest. Invasive species reduce biodiversity while snubbing out native vegetation. Controlled burns work to destroy these invasive species in the forest understory, allowing native plants to flourish in their that are more beneficial for deer and other wildlife for both security cover and food.
Matt Dye of Land & Legacy shares his expertise regarding TSI in the Whitetail Properties LandBeat video below. Matt explains that prescribed fire is a highly effective tool for managing understory in a timber stand. Benefits for wildlife include forage and habitat for deer, turkey, and birds by promoting the growth of understory vegetation.
How to Properly Establish Fire Breaks on Your Land
Conducting a prescribed burn safely takes careful research, planning, and preparation. In some states, burns may require certifications or coursework. Matt always suggests working with trusted private forestry consultants, contacting your local fire department, or partnering with local forestry organizations to ensure your burn is conducted safely and effectively. To educate and inform yourself ahead of a controlled burn, you can also check out this playlist of LandBeat videos that will teach you everything you need to know about prescribed burns and how to effectively manage your timber property.
In this video, Matt explains the three-step process for using minimal equipment to establish a fire break.
1. Establish your perimeter.
Establish the perimeter of your burn unit using both tools and software. Carefully map out the topography of your land in order to plan your fire break and ensure that your prescribed burn is both effective and contained.
2. Clear your perimeter.
Next, the perimeter must be cleared to reduce the fuel load and ensure the fire is contained within the burn unit, by creating an effective fire line.
3. Reduce the risk of burnable materials jumping your fire break.
Finally, you must identify the snags in proximity to your fire break and mitigate the risk of the fire catching that snag. Move deadfalls including sticks and larger logs to reduce the burnable material inside the fire break and ensure that before you burn, the fire break is a four-to-five-foot lane of bare mineral soil.
Learn how to properly establish a fire break with Matt Dye of Land & Legacy.
Prescribed fire is an effective and important tool for timber property owners who want to improve the health and productivity of their forest stands. By reducing the risk of wildfires, reducing the growth of invasive species, and promoting the growth of understory vegetation to bolster wildlife habitat, prescribed fire can help to ensure the longevity and sustainability of timberland investments for years to come.
Learn More About Prescribed Burns and Timber Stand Improvement
For more information regarding prescribed burns and other Timber Stand Improvement methods, visit our related blog posts or watch the LandBeat video series on TSI and prescribed burns.
Thinking about purchasing wooded land for a future investment?
Reach out to your local Whitetail Properties Land Specialist to learn more about available woodland properties for sale in your area. Working with a Land Specialist is the best way to ensure you maximize your investment and learn all the key strategies and information you’ll need to make the most of your wilderness property.