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Firebreaks serve many purposes

A good land management plan should include prescribed fire, and no prescribed fire should burn without adequate firebreaks.

These breaks define the burn unit perimeter and provide access to burn units, however, they can serve another purpose, said Dwayne Elmore, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist.

"They also can be utilized in other ways to benefit wildlife and improve hunting," he said. "Food plots are often used as an attractant to make some game species more visible and increase hunting efficiency."

In some cases, firebreaks can provide beneficial forage for species such as wild turkey and white-tailed deer. As possibly the only accessible and open areas for food plots, firebreaks can be disked annually or seasonally and used for warm and/or cool-season food plots.

"Firebreak food plots also can be planted with perennial forages, but because of residual plant material, they will need to be mowed on a schedule to maintain a reliable firebreaks," Elmore said. "Disking could also be used, but may result in plant mortality and the need to replant a perennial flood plot."

However, leaving firebreaks fallow and allowing native species, like sunflowers, crotons and ragweeds to germinate can be very attractive to wildlife. When heavy fuels are present, areas adjacent to the disked fireline are often mowed or cleared to create an area of minimal fuel.

"These cleared openings in forests stimulate native forbs and sprouting woody plants, such as dogwoods, elm and greenbrier to regenerate, which are important deer forages," Elmore said.

Open areas should be periodically burned, cut, shredded or disked to stimulate new growth in successive years.

Date: 3/4/2013



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