Conservation Management : Controlled Burning Questions


It’s always a great experience to drive thru the Oak Openings Preserve in Toledo Ohio.  We usually make this our normal route home after enjoying dinner at Loma Lindas Mexican Restaurant or shopping at the many garden centers located on Airport Highway in Northwest Ohio. This last drive we were hoping to see the normal deer and color starting to pop but got the witness a control burn going on.  I was curious to what this was all about and knew I could ask my favorite forestry pal on social media. In this post I emailed Joe of about this practice and he was kind of enough to answer a few of my questions which I will share below.

Drive Thru Oak Openings on Control Burn Day

Twitter Connecting

Joe was kind enough to answer a few of my questions

  1. Controlled burning is a well-planned conservation management tool that must have a specific goal before it is conducted. Some of the reasons to conduct controlled burns include: fuel reduction (mainly out west); production of forbs and grasses for wildlife grazing (woodlands); rejuvenating warm-season-grass (WSG) stands to improve wildlife habitat; improving conditions for oaks to grow – oak seedlings can withstand a low-intensity fire while competing hardwoods such as maple do not survive the fire; preparing land after logging for reforestation with pine seedlings. In regards to minimizing the impact on wildlife, controlled burning is usually done outside of the nesting season for most birds and mammals.


  1. The frequency of controlled burning is based on the objective:
  • Fuel reduction – every 5-10 yrs
  • Woodland wildlife grazing – every 10-15 yrs
  • WSG burns – every 3 yrs
  • Improving conditions for oak growth – 1-2 times
  • Land prep for pine planting –  once


  1. Conditions that dictate whether a burn happens or not:
  • Humidity (usually not below 30%)
  • Dryness of fuel
  • Wind speed and direction
  • Available resources to safely conduct burn
  • Management of the smoke
  • Hazards or targets near the burn – houses, businesses, etc.


  1. Keeping a burn under control is a balance of both science and art. The first step is to install adequate fire breaks that will contain the fire as it moves across the landscape. This can be a plowed furrow created by a forestry dozer/fireplow unit, a road, a wide stream, etc. From there the “critical” fire control line is carefully burned out. This is the line towards which the wind is blowing. Once that is burned-out and blackened, personnel with fire drip torches light strings of fire perpendicular to the direction of the wind. This is continued until all of the area is burned over. Once the burning is completed the crews stay on site to monitor the area until it is safe to leave the burn. We also make certain that we have a dozer/fireplow unit on site the day of the burn, an engine with an ample water supply and plenty of people to safely conduct the burning operations.


  1. White stuff on the ground in blackened areas could be a whiter ash where some piece of material may have burned a bit hotter and was completely consumed by the fire as opposed to just being charred.

control burn

Picture of one of our WSG wildlife burns – as you can see the fires can be pretty intense!


Information via:  Joe Lehnen, Area Forester VA Dept. of Forestry

Be sure to follow Joe on Twitter at  @joetree415 .

Get Ready for Summer and the Great Outdoors

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I will be featuring this product on my social media – I’m not a paid spokes person – I JUST LOVE sharing products that work! Do you have a favorite way to get rid or mosquitoes?

2 thoughts on “Conservation Management : Controlled Burning Questions”

  1. This was so interesting, Bren! I never knew any of this. Thanks to you and Joe for the information.


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