Fire for birds, bees and other wildlife

What does the small, non-industrial, timberland owner do for timberland management? I addressed some of these issues in a previous article, but now we are going to get a little more specific.

Timberland or forestry management assesses the needs and goals of the landowner and works to implement the various aspects laid out in the timberland management plan. Timber management is much more than just looking after the trees. Good management considers the balance of the whole ecosystem — trees, plants and wildlife.

One of our best forest management tools is prescribed fire. I remember when I was at Louisiana Tech University in 1980 taking the “Fire” class with Dr. Jim Dyer. Someone in the class referred to a “control burn” and Dr. Dyer stopped and said, “There is nothing about a fire that we can control. We write a prescription for the fire to accomplish a desired goal. But we do not control anything about it.”

Prescribed fire is a great tool for forestry. Most burns are done in the spring or can also be done later in the year and referred to as a “warm season” burn. A prescribed burn will eliminate the fuel on the ground under desired conditions, as opposed to having a wildfire during the hot summertime which may damage many of the pine trees.

A prescribed burn accomplishes several objectives:

• It removes the fuel on ground.

• It puts the ash back into the soil immediately which fertilizes the trees.

• It greatly enhances the wildlife habitat of the area.

A burned area is tremendous brood habitat for turkeys. The young poults can run through the area with ease and feed on the insects.

The young tender browse produced following the burn is fantastic food source for deer and rabbits. The flowering plants which come in following a fire are outstanding habitat for pollinators and songbirds.

Pollinators have become a “b