Landowners learn more about habitat management
Spring is often red flag fire warning season, but local fire officials are taking time to bring awareness of the benefits of controlled burns.
Prescribed burning is a method of habitat management used by landowners who are seeking better soil health and biodiversity.
The South Dakota Grassland Coalition partnered with SDSU Extension and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to host a free controlled burning course for landowners.
Leaders utilized a classroom style teaching platform followed by practical exercise of controlled burning.
Jeff Zimprich owns the land near Sioux Falls used in the control burn practice. Zimprich spent his 40-year career with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. He said he wants to change the narrative on landowner fires.
“What this class is all about is teaching landowners, ‘me,’ and a whole bunch of other folks here that fire doesn’t have to be scary. You make a plan, you learn how to make that plan right, you get help from other people, and build those partners that will work with you and then help them help you do what’s right to help take care of the environment,” said Zimprich.
The class began with a small test fire for the students to make final decisions on conditions before a larger burn.
Josh Lefers is a working lands program manager for Audubon Great Plains. He was the appointed "burn leader" for the landowner training. Before moving forward, he ensured all students understood what the test fire told them about measurable conditions.
“The other thing I’m looking at is fuel consumption, that was the goal of our fire and I think that fuel consumption is looking good. Everything looks to be as we had expected originally, our wind is pushing from the west here and our smoke is going up pretty well, I think we are ready to go ahead and take it forward,” said Lefers.
The students then completed burns in assigned parcels with instructors by their side.
Lefers said landowners across the state can benefit from learning how to conduct prescribed burning safely and efficiently on their property.