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Iowa

Where's There's Smoke, There's (Managed) Fire!

The training will host local and regional media and the public on Monday and Tuesday, April 8th and 9th. If you are interested in coming out and viewing from a safe vantage point contact Amy Crouch at (712) 229 5082.

Land managers, farmers and municipal fire departments are working together to improve the prairies and pastures in the Loess Hills for forage, wildlife habitat and scenic beauty.

Firefighters from federal, state, county, private and municipal departments from 6 states including Iowa, Kansas, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming arrived in the Loess Hills this week to exchange knowledge and experience while completing numerous controlled burns in Western Iowa. These fire professionals and new recruits are working with land managers in the Loess Hills to practice and improve their prescribed fire skills while also providing a much needed benefit to the land.

Kyle Lapham, the Loess Hills Fire Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy discussed how “Iowa is a prairie state, but only one tenth of 1% of Iowa’s native prairies remain, and the largest intact tracts are here in the Loess Hills. Fire has long played an important role in the prairies and forests of North America, and if we want to protect our water and soils we need to keep good fire on the landscape."

These controlled burns are planned weeks and sometimes months in advance; burn plans are written by the land owner and burns are conducted only when the weather is just right.

This training started with the participants spending a half day in the classroom learning about local ecology, burn planning, and even working with a local meteorologist to understand the weather patterns and forecasts for the area. Participants then went out and burned 33 acres at Farm Creek Public Wildlife Area near Carson, Iowa. Over the next two weeks firefighters will burn approximately 1500 acres on state, county, Conservancy and private ground.

“What a great learning opportunity” reports Bob Buhr of the Bureau of Land Management in Wyoming “we’re getting to work with firefighters from the Kansas Forest Service, Pottawattamie County, Harrison County, Council Bluffs Fire Department, the US Forest Service and even a couple of private non-profit organizations."

The training will host local and regional media and the public on Monday and Tuesday, April 8th and 9th. If you are interested in coming out and viewing from a safe vantage point contact Amy Crouch at (712) 229 5082.

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