Fire as a management tool, when planned and controlled by professional wildland fire specialists, can be an extremely efficient and practical way for habitat biologists and land managers to promote positive change in a habitat and yield numerous benefits on the landscape.
Before human intervention fires helped shape landscapes and habitats and it has only been through modern land use practices that we have deprived landscapes of fire. However, with the use of prescribed fire as a management tool, wildland fire specialists can improve landscapes and wildlife habitat by removing invasive plant life, removing excessive dead and fallen debris and promoting new vegetation growth that can serve as both a food source and shelter for wildlife. Prescribed fires are also a cost effective and viable way to bring about quick and large-scale change to an environment.
One such prescribed fire for habitat management occurred in February at a Department-owned Prairie Chicken Management Area in southeastern New Mexico. Fire crews from numerous state, local and federal agencies came together to bring fire back to a historically fire-adapted prairie landscape that after burning would promote healthy and needed change. With sufficient rain over the next few months the area will quickly recover with new grasses, forbs and woody cover delivering a “reset” to the landscape.
Watch the video to learn about the project and see the fire crews in action, and be sure to keep an eye out for the full article in the winter issue of New Mexico Wildlife magazine to learn more about this project and the benefits of prescribed fire.