Should We Use Fire to Manage Land?
Humans have always used prescribed fire to manage land in the Great Plains. Indigenous groups used prescribed fire to shape the Great Plains landscapes and create environments in which they could thrive. Prescribed fires used to manage land are very different from wildfires. The risk of fatality to wildfire fighters is 3,500% higher compared to prescribed fire users. Today’s grasslands owe their existence to human-ignited fires and is the only method proven to effectively control cedar at the scale of the Great Plains biome.
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[00:00:00.246](new age instrumental music)
[00:00:03.750]So, prescribed burning is
[00:00:06.170]the application of fire to the land
[00:00:09.770]to meet specific goals and objectives using a prescription
[00:00:15.390]and that prescription's not only weather conditions
[00:00:18.810]that we're gonna burn under,
[00:00:20.420]but also how many people we need,
[00:00:23.060]what kind of equipment do we need,
[00:00:24.690]what kind of pre-burn management do we need to do,
[00:00:26.790]maybe post-burn management as well.
[00:00:29.820](new age instrumental music)
[00:00:32.340]Man has always manipulated the land that they live on
[00:00:37.290]and Native Americans did that
[00:00:39.090]and their main thing that they had to use was fire,
[00:00:41.870]so that's what they utilized.
[00:00:43.850]Again, today, man still manages our landscape.
[00:00:47.550]We make the land easier to get around on, easier to work on.
[00:00:51.260]No different than what Native Americans did centuries ago.
[00:00:55.200]But fire was what they used and they were the fire setters.
[00:00:59.739](new age instrumental music)
[00:01:02.150]Yes, lightning played an important role historically.
[00:01:04.840]It was a fire setter, but it was not the fire setter
[00:01:08.200]that Native Americans were.
[00:01:13.630]It occurs on any day that it can occur on.
[00:01:16.500]A lot of times, it's typically on bad days
[00:01:19.200]that are strong winds, low humidities,
[00:01:22.340]you're at the mercy of that fire that's going on.
[00:01:24.460]With a prescribed fire, we're wanting to set the fire
[00:01:27.390]under the conditions we want.
[00:01:29.380]We're wanting to hold it to the spot
[00:01:31.290]that we want to hold it at.
[00:01:33.100]The number of people may be the same,
[00:01:34.700]the equipment may be similar of what we use,
[00:01:37.160]some tactics of doing things may be similar,
[00:01:40.120]but they're two totally different animals
[00:01:42.860]when you look at it.
[00:01:45.939](new age instrumental music)
[00:01:49.600]The risk to human life on prescribed fire
[00:01:53.610]is a whole lot less.
[00:01:54.900]We actually just did a study.
[00:01:57.380]The interesting thing is that
[00:02:02.170]occurring during fighting a wildfire is 3500%
[00:02:07.890]greater fighting a wildfire
[00:02:10.160]than it is setting a prescribed fire.
[00:02:13.090]The problem is people look at
[00:02:15.010]oh, you're doing a prescribed fire,
[00:02:16.430]that may be dangerous, we probably better not do that,
[00:02:18.740]but we don't think one second about
[00:02:20.670]sending people out to fight a wildfire
[00:02:23.810]with a risk of greater than 3500%
[00:02:27.330]of having a fatality within with this prescribed fire.
[00:02:30.900]But we don't blink or have a second thought
[00:02:33.040]about sending somebody to fight a fire.
[00:02:35.800]Then you think about what are they fighting that fire for?
[00:02:38.120]What are they saving?
[00:02:39.520]Some grass, some trees.
[00:02:43.270]That kind of stuff, is that worth risking human life?
[00:02:49.920]You look at the grasslands throughout the Great Plains,
[00:02:52.290]you look at the grasslands even on other continents,
[00:02:54.960]they're grasslands for one reason
[00:02:57.820]and really one reason only and that's fire.
[00:03:01.110]Fire keeps and maintains these grasslands.
[00:03:04.890]We've seen it, you can drive around our grasslands,
[00:03:07.510]especially here in the Great Plains
[00:03:09.190]and see that we're losing our grasslands.
[00:03:12.410]The biggest reason of that is lack of fire
[00:03:14.610]because if you don't burn it,
[00:03:16.850]woody plant encroachment, tree encroachment,
[00:03:19.370]will take over the grasslands.
[00:03:22.520]Fire is a very, very important part
[00:03:26.340]of grassland management, grassland restoration,
[00:03:30.290]and grassland maintenance and keeping it here forever.
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