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Prescribed burns help oak savanna at Crane Meadows Refuge

Prescribed burns are planned to be conducted in April and May, or in the fall and winter, when weather and safety conditions are right to meet the objectives of the burns.

Two wildland firefighters lay a prescribed fire line in a grassland.
Two wildland firefighters lay a prescribed fire line in a grassland.
Contributed / Kris Spaeth, USFWS

LITTLE FALLS โ€” Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is planning a series of prescribed burns during the spring season to help maintain the natural habitats for wildlife and reduce the chance of wildfires outside the refuge.

The refuge averages around 200 acres of prescribed burning each year.

Headline News from the Brainerd Dispatch

Prescribed burns, fires that are carefully planned, are beneficial to native prairie and oak savanna plant communities at the refuge. The burns are conducted under a special set of guidelines for weather and safety called a "prescription." These prescriptions are planned to accomplish specific objectives for vegetation and wildlife management. Before a burn begins, temperature, relative humidity, fuel conditions, wind speed and wind direction are measured. Refuge staff takes into account smoke drift, nearby buildings, livestock and other safety factors when deciding whether to burn.

According to Kris Larson, fire management officer, the burn is conducted only if conditions meet the approved "prescription."

โ€œWe want the public to know that safety is our utmost concern. By reducing fuels through prescribed burning, we not only benefit wildlife, but also minimize the threat that wildfires on or around the refuge may have to the surrounding public,โ€ Larson said in a news release.

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Through habitat management programs, such as prescribed fire, Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is restoring the natural ecosystem. The oak savanna ecosystem, with its plants and wildlife, is adapted to fire and depends on periodic burning for continued existence. While the refuge conducts prescribed fire annually, the same areas are not burned year after year. Prior to European settlement, these areas likely burned every three to 10 years due to natural or human causes, and the refuge strives to replicate that historic pattern.

Prescribed burns at Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge are planned to be conducted in April and May, or in the fall and winter, when weather and safety conditions are right to meet the objectives of the burns.

Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is located southeast of Little Falls on Iris Road/County Road 35. For questions concerning the refugeโ€™s prescribed burns, call 763-260-3473 or visit the website at www.fws.gov/refuge/crane_meadows . TTY users may reach the refuge through the Federal Information Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.

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