Management Tip: Prescribed burning

By March 3, 2020 Articles

Fire is a Crescent wrench for wildlife managers. Do you have it in your tool box?

I know what you’re thinking . . . so why did you wait until it’s too green to burn before mentioning fire as a tool for managing habitat for quail???  There’s method to my madness.  Prescribed burning is a lot more than just striking a match; it takes extensive planning pre-, during, and post-burn.  Now is no time to try something at the last minute—but it is a great

Our burn crew last week involved several volunteers, plus the Rx Burning class from Texas Tech. That’s smoke in the background following our de-briefing on the burn.  Photo courtesy K. Hoskins

time to start panning now for burns next year.

We started our formal burning season at RPQRR last week, conducting four burns on Thursday and Friday.  We have 8 more burns planned for this month, weather permitting.  The highlight of last week was the opportunity to involve 17 students enrolled in Texas Tech’s course in Prescribed Burning.  Kudos to their instructor Duane Lucia for using the opportunity to (a) introduce these students to the conduct of a prescribed burn, and (b) providing young legs for our fire crew! Duane did an excellent job of both instructing, and educating, at the same time.

It’s a sad sign of the times that more and more universities downplay the importance of field trips.  Kudos to Texas Tech in this respect, and tip of the hat to those who supported Duane’s ability to get them experience in the field.  I reiterate the motto of the Bobwhite Brigade (based on a Chinese proverb): “Tell me, and I forget.  Show me, and I remember. Involve me, and I understand.” You can’t become proficient in prescribed burning in the classroom alone.

If you’d like to get some exposure to, or additional experience with, using fire as a tool, you’re welcome to come and help out.  We’ve outlined five more burn days to be completed during the following dates:

  • March 9th-11th
  • March 16th-20th

We try to burn 2 “polygons” per day ranging in size from 75 to 250 acres.
If you would like to get some experience with Rx fire, we need volunteers. Typically, we gather at noon (for a pizza lunch) and finish the burn(s) about 6 p.m.

Decisions as to whether to “go” or “no go” aren’t made until the day prior to the burn (due to weather forecasts), so if you’d like to be included on our e-mail list for notifications, please e-mail me stating such (

On a related note, mark your calendars for RPOQRR’s annual field day, which is slated for Friday, May 15, and will feature fire as a tool for wildlife managers. Stay tuned for more details.