Prescribed fire has been called the best land management tool available by many biologist. Its use is less expensive than other management tools and is beneficial on many levels, the least of which is the all-important task of lessening the fuel load available to wildfire.
In Arkansas, the NWTF and our partner the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been instrumental in repairing nearly 200 acres of what was once an open pine habitat. The work, performed in the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge, involved treating 50 acres with herbicide to control advancement by unwanted hardwoods and woody plants in 2017 and the reintroduction of prescribed fire in 2018 on 190 acres. Endangered species such as the red-cockaded woodpecker depend on this type of habitat to survive.
Keeping unwanted hardwoods at bay and keeping beneficial non-woody plants plentiful is dependent on regular prescribed fire. Non-woody plants are those that do not leave a woody stem above ground when the leaves of the plant begin to die. This helps reduce fuel loads available to wildfires and provides wildlife with beneficial areas to feed and nest.
Well-managed areas, such as these open pine forests, have the ability to support priority bird species like the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, the wild turkey, northern bobwhite, Backman’s sparrow and Henslow’s sparrow. – Susan Delk