I have been doing doing habititat burns in the Los
PadresNatinal forest and Ft. Hunter Liggett for over 20 yrs. now. How
do you figure it harms the ciuntry side, if anything this area needs to
burn to clear off thick brush and down timber? I have worked in this area for
over twenty yrs now and have seen the effects of fire. This part of the
country beeded it to clear country and brush other fires and give
wikdkife a chance to reclaim the area.
I don't have any specific data on hand, but I can understand all the
potential beneifts of doing prescribed burns for habitat in the national
One consideration regarding the burns. In nature, we experience periodic
natural burns of an area; these serve to reduce fuel, open forest canopies
to provide light and enable development of other species, and release
nutrients from vegetation back into the soil. Because, however, these may
be infrequent, their intensity might be greater than those of occasional
prescribed burns. Having said that, depending upon the fire intensity,
there is a possibility of changes in soil from frequent or intense fire.
Either of these could change soil structure, and, without vegetation cover,
and depending upon topography, there is the potential for soil erosion and
subsequent nutrient depletion. Depletion could begin a chain of events
resulting in loss of species diversity due to loss of niche.
The discussion above contains many variables. You need to judge for your
particular area what danger might exist due to topography, soil type and
structure, vegetation type, intended use, and rainfall data. If you are
concerned, you might try experimentation with, for example, one acre
treatments using habitat burns vs. no habitat burns (attepting to use
similar areas for the experiment). Prior to the burn of one area, note
wildlife and vegetation present, and then record, for several years,
apparent changes in each area. You might be able to note any positive or
negative effects, again, based upon the characteristics of your particular
area. This might also help develop some optimal schedule for burning an
area based on normal vegetation progression.
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Update: June 2012