|Controlled burn is training exercise|
|Written by Wauneta Breeze|
|Thursday, 05 May 2011 17:07|
By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
About 20 employees of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) from around Nebraska and beyond participated in a controlled burn of pasture on the Jack and John Maddux land Thursday, April 29.
More than 300 acres of land was involved in the burn, about five miles north of Imperial along the Spring Creek.
Caleb Caton, a soil conservationist technician with the Imperial NRCS office, was one of those training at the session. He has participated in several other burns.
“Last year we did one on 100 acres (in Chase County) and saw amazing response,” he enthused.
A controlled burn on pasture is started by NRCS personnel. The burn is started downwind and worked back into the wind. (Imperial Republican Photos)
The purpose of the burn is to “set back cool-season brome grass to reinvigorate warm-season grass growth,” Caton said.
The burn also eliminates Eastern red cedar trees, an invasive species originally introduced in Nebraska as windbreak material.
Unchecked, red cedars can eventually reduce grass yield in a pasture by up to 50 percent.
Jack Maddux said the burn they did last year has improved the grass significantly this year by reducing the brome stand.
This was the last controlled burn in Chase County this season, Caton noted. “I anticipate more next year.”
The controlled burn on Jack and John Maddux’s land last Friday allowed about 300 acres to begin to return to native status.
Those attending the burn session included National Prescribed Burn Trainer Pat Shaver of Oregon, Jeff Nichols of the NRCS training division, and Reggie Blackwell of the NRCS of Portland, Ore.
Caton said this was a unique training opportunity by having the national training officers present.
He said they have been conducting planning for the Maddux burn for several months. He expects controlled burns to become a favored tool in pasture management.
The biggest obstacles to executing a burn is lack of expertise and a lack of manpower and equipment when the burn occurs, Caton said.
The burn was conducted with the approval of Imperial Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bryan Dannatt. “His willingness to participate has been great,” Caton declared.
He said Dannatt understands the importance a controlled burn plays in overall range management.
On the same day as the Maddux burn, a burn in the Trenton area went awry. One person died and two were critically burned.