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Tuesday, February 7 • 8:00am - 12:00pm
Overview of Symposium (S6). The Impact of Prescribed and Wild Fires on the Great Plains

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Doug Whisenhunt; doug.whisenhunt@ne.usda.gov 

Abstract: This symposium depicts a variety of research projects, wildlife habitat responses and successful models of entities, agencies and private landowners working together to implement large-scale prescribed fires and the impacts of wildfires on the private lands of Nebraska. The Great Plains ecosystems in Nebraska evolved under the disturbance regimes of fire and herbivory by large ungulates. Native wildlife were dependent on these disturbance events to provide the heterogenous mosaic of habitat necessary for maintenance of successful populations.

Settlement by European man disrupted the fire cycle, and altered the grazing regime, greatly impacting the dynamics of the wildlife populations that occupy these landscape.

The native vegetative communities that escaped the plow and the bulldozer have become dramatically altered by landscape fragmentation, modern day management practices and policies. The natural fire regime is one of the primary systems that has been impacted. One of the most devastating results has been the encroachment of invading woody species into native grasslands. Millions of acres of the remaining grasslands in Nebraska have become forested to the point of creating a monoculture. In many cases, this habitat shift has caused a corresponding change in wildlife species that occupy the areas, shifting from a grassland community to a forest dwelling community and creating potential for increased wildfire danger. Starting in the year 2000, Nebraska private landowners have banded together to bring prescribed fire back to tens of thousands of acres of native grasslands to reclaim lost forage and wildlife habitat.

Tuesday February 7, 2017 8:00am - 12:00pm CST
Arbor I/II