A prescribed burn was conducted recently on the Charles Schroeder Wildlife Management Area in Wells County.

According to the Game and Fish Department, the fire was conducted in order to increase the diversity and health of the grassland, reduce the risk of future wildfires, and improve the overall quality of habitats for local wildlife.

Prescribed burns — sometimes known as controlled burns or prescribed fires — have been relatively uncommon in recent years due to fears of fire spreading beyond control as a result of the drought. But with the recent rains, the Department of Game and Fish has deemed it fitting to resume the process when it is needed.

These burns are completely authorized by the North Dakota Department of Game and Fish. In order to be approved, plans to start a controlled burn go through a rigorous process which includes a scientific prescription deciding the fire’s goal, size, the fuels that will be used to create it, and how the burn will react to outside conditions (such as weather and nearby materials). During these fires, plans and systems are always in place to protect the safety of the land and nearby people.

Controlled files are also an important tool for land managers. At times, torching a field is actually a good method to help improve quality around the area, according to Game and Fish. Previous instances of prescribed burns have shown their surprising use in returning the woodlands to a more natural state. The fires can be designed to assist in creating diverse habitats for endangered animals, provide an area where wildlife species can recover from previous damage, or even reduce the number of dangerous fuels and materials nearby. The reduction of weeds and non-native species, as well as the release of nutrients stuck in dead vegetation, are also positive points when it comes to starting a controlled blaze.

The Game and Fish Department is looking forward to a new, rejuvenated grassland once the Wildlife Management Area recovers.