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Fire Management

RxFire_512x219The goal of the refuge's fire management program is to enhance wildlife habitat on the refuge while reducing the possibility of damaging wildfires. We use fire - one of nature’s tools - to protect life and property and enhance natural resources for the benefit of wildlife. 

Fire is an integral part of the Wichita Mountains ecosystem and an important management tool of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.  

The Oklahoma and North Texas Fire Management program is made up of professional wildland firefighters that are stationed at the refuge.  These firefighters respond to wildfires on the refuge and elsewhere in the country, as well as work with refuge staff to meet the management goals of the refuge.  Fire once occurred naturally on this landscape but with the settlement of the area came suppression of wildfires.  To mimic that historic burning regime for the benefit of wildlife, the Fire Management program conducts prescribed burns under a very strict prescription with safety being the top priority.  In addition, the fire program works with surrounding communities to help them protect themselves from wild fires. As the population grows and development expands into the wildland and urban interface, the risk of wildfires is significantly increasing for those who chose to live near wildlands.  The fire program strives to support communities in their effort to protect citizens and property from wildfires.


Wildfires
Wildfires are unplanned, unwanted fires that burn uncontrollably. They destroy natural resources, property and lives. People (98%), not lightning (2%), ignite most wildfires in our area. Most human ignitions are unintentional. Carelessness with debris burning, campfires, welding and other human activity is the most common cause of wildfires. Fires such as these can most easily be prevented.

Prescribed Fires
Prescribed fires are planned to meet specific management objectives. Professionals regularly use prescribed fire as a management tool on national wildlife refuges in the Oklahoma and North Texas Fire Management Districts. Prescribed fires are carefully managed and applied only under predetermined conditions to ensure the desired results are achieved. Habitat manipulation can be attained by varying fire timing, frequency, and intensity. The proper use of prescribed fire reduces fuel that can cause damaging fire and maintains the ecosystem in a diverse, healthy and vigorous state

Wildland Urban Interface
Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) is the area in or near wildlands (grasslands and forests) where homes are located. As more people build their homes in this interface, the potential for wildfire damage increases. There are steps we can take to protect our homes, property, structures and ourselves from wildfires. Firewise is a program designed to help keep you, your family and your property safe from wildfires. This program provides landowners with many tools to make their homes and property Firewise, and thus better able to withstand the destructive outcome of wildfire.
 

To learn more about how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uses fire as a resource management tool, please visit the national Fire Management website.

Last Updated: May 29, 2014
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