LINCOLN, Neb. – Now is a good time to put in firebreaks to be used during prescribed burns, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
“We want landowners to conduct their prescribed fires in a safe manner, so getting your firebreaks in place in the fall, ahead of any burns in the spring or in the non-growing season, is the best practice,” said Scott Luedtke, Game and Parks’ Habitat Partners Section southeast district manager. “Late season haying is a good idea so that you have good, safe firebreaks to use when you’re ready to fire off your field.”
With firebreaks in place, landowners can prepare for burns to manage red cedar populations. The non-growing season is an ideal time for this, Luedtke said, because of reduced moisture content.
By conducting prescribed burns to control red cedar, landowners can help stop its spread, which is regarded as the largest conservation challenge in the Great Plains and Nebraska Sandhills. Once a rare and well-liked species, red cedar has spread exponentially in Nebraska, and scientists now recognize it as the number one threat to Nebraska’s rangelands, despite its status as a native species.
Effects of red cedar invasion include collapses in native biodiversity; increased risk to endangered species; inability to control wildfires; decline of water resources; increased allergens; and surprising negative impacts on public school funding. In addition, studies have documented that livestock production decreases by 75 percent or more in areas where red cedar has taken over.
Further information about red cedar in Nebraska is available from the University of Nebraska at cedarliteracy.unl.edu. To inquire about conducting a prescribed burn on your land, contact your local Game and Parks district office.