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Landowner Toolbox

Plan Before You Light

One of the most cost-effective methods of habitat management is the use of fire. When it comes to wild turkeys, prescribed fire should be a part your habitat management plan.

Travis Sumner November 20, 20232 min read

Burning at the right time of year, with correct weather conditions along with site selection, can create nesting and brooding habitat essential for wild turkey populations. Establishing a burning plan will help ensure productive results to the habitat along with the safety aspect of dealing with fire and smoke.

Burn Purpose and Objectives

Most burning purposes and objectives can be summarized: improve wildlife habitat while enhancing the timber stand. Removing unwanted trees not beneficial to wildlife and setting habitat back to an early successional stage creates an environment where native plant species that are beneficial to wildlife for food and cover can emerge. Your objectives should also include a burning rotation schedule.

Stand Descriptions 

Have a brief description of the area you plan to burn. Include the species, age and size of all trees. Fuel descriptions can include grasses, hardwood litter, pine straw, vines and shrub-type plants. Knowing the stand and the fuels that are within the stand will help you make decisions on the intensity of the fire you use during your controlled burn to achieve desired results.

Weather Conditions 

Weather has always dictated the timing and intensity of controlled burns. Controlled burns should be planned around days that you have optimal humidity and temperature to meet your goals. Also identify smoke-sensitive areas like highways, roads, homes or businesses that may be affected by the smoke produced from the burn. Look for wind directions that will allow smoke dispersal to travel away from these sensitive areas.

Advance Preparation

Firebreaks should be bladed or disced well in advance. A written fire plan helps with scheduling. Make sure that your burning equipment is in working order. Identify all adjacent landowners, local fire departments and forestry commissions that will need to be contacted the day of the burn.


A burn plan ensures the most important thing to remember when burning: the safety of yourself and those involved in conducting a burn. Make sure that you discuss firing techniques, patrolling of the burn and clean-up procedures after the burn. Identify escape routes out of the burn area in case of sudden change in the fire behavior.

You can reach out to your local state forestry commission for more information on creating a prescribed fire plan. The state forestry commission offers classes on learning to conduct controlled burns as well as prescribed fire manager courses.

Filed Under:
  • Healthy Habitats
  • Land Management
  • Prescribed Burn