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Name:    Ray
Status:    other
Age:    40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001


Question:
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.


Replies:
Ray,

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 Forests.

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.

Thanks for using NEWTON!

Ric Rupnik


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