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Prescribed Burning Guidelines
in the Northern Great Plains

Confining Fire

Bare ground or mineral soil firebreaks

Cultivated or bladed bare soil firebreaks 5 m (15 ft) wide are probably best, but they are also the most expensive to establish and maintain in grasslands. If cultivated firebreaks are used during two or more successive years, problems with landscape scarring, soil erosion, and weeds can occur.

This type of firebreak (Fig 26) can be established by tilling with farm plows or disks, with bulldozers, road graders, or with soil sterilants. When implements or machinery are used to make bare soil, the vegetation and litter residue should be worked away from the prescription burn area along the firebreaks.

JPEG -- Soil firebreak

Erosion and landscape scar problems can be minimized on bare soil firebreaks by moving and spreading the former vegetation and debris back onto the firebreak after the completion of a burn. With this method, annual weeds will establish in one year and secondary succession of more permanent cover will evenly restore vegetation on the sites in the following few years.

Cultivated firebreaks can be established several days in advance of the prescription fire. Cultivated or bare soil firebreaks are also useful for fire research where experimental plots need annual protection as well as control during treatment. Flame lengths and chances of fire escaping along firebreaks can be reduced by mowing vegetation for 2-3 m (69 ft) on each side of the firebreak.

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