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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Prescribed Burning Guidelines
in the Northern Great Plains

Confining Fire


Confining fire to only the grassland fuels you intend to burn requires a combination of adequate firelines or firebreaks and good weather information and forecasts.

Several types of firebreaks have been used on grassland fires in the NGP region. Primary among these are (1) bare or mineral soil and tilled farmlands, roads, or trails; (2) streams, lakes, and wetlands; (3) wetline; (4) chemical retardants; (5) foam retardants; (6) mowed or hayed, or (7) burned or blackline strips or areas; (8) flappers and backpack water pumps; and (9) snowbanks.

Usually two or more types of firebreaks will be used on any one fire. Do not forfeit prescription objectives to get by with an easier or cheaper confinement method. Remember, fires are more difficult and dangerous to confine than to set.

The primary types of firebreaks used by USFWS personnel are shown in Fig 33. In the prairie pothole region, combinations of bare soil, roads or trails, and streams or wetlands were used more than a single type.

GIF -- Types of firebreak bar graph

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