Kearney, Gothenburg, Elyria, and Wellfleet within the Nebraska Prescribed Burn Task Force region of the state have been selected as the sites for the 2013 prescribed burn schools.
Dates and specific locations are: Feb. 20, Kearney at the Buffalo County Cooperative Ext.; Feb. 21Gothenburg, Monsanto Learning Center; Feb. Feb. 19 at Elyria Community Hall; and Feb. 22, Wellfleet at CCC Too Restaurant.
Ben Wheeler, prescribed burn task president, says one of the primary uses of prescribed fire in Nebraska is management of eastern red cedar trees, which over the past 50 years have been expanded greatly in area and density on the state's grasslands.
It's estimated that Nebraska is losing 700 acres of grazing land per day because of red cedar encroachment. Prescribed fire, if properly planned and executed has been a safe, effective and economical management tool.
The schools' lead speaker will be Jay Wickham, fire management officer for the Division of Wildland Fire, South Dakota Department of Agriculture, Custer State Park field office. Wickham is a leader in the division's prescribed-fire program. He will discuss fire behavior, burning methods and techniques, and equipment and crew needs.
Other speakers will address prescribed-fire planning, fire weather and Nebraska burn laws.
School participants who attend one class session and one of the training burns scheduled for later in the spring, are certified to use task-force equipment for a nominal fee to conduct their own prescribed fires.
The Prescribed Burn Task Force was formed in 1994. Since then it has held 60 schools attended by more than 1,600 students, while demonstration burns total more than 32,000 acres. The schools teach safe and effective use of fire as a management tool, and school graduates can use task-force burn equipment.
The task force includes landowners and agency personnel primarily from Buffalo, Custer, Dawson and Lincoln counties.
All schools will meet from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with registration at 8:30 a.m. Cost is $10 and includes lunch. Separate trainings are scheduled for volunteer fire departments.
Contact UNL Extension offices at Kearney, 308-236-1235; Gothenburg, 308-324-5501; Elyria, 308-872-6831; and Wellfleet, 308-532-2683.
Members of the task force include volunteer firefighters, Central Platte, Lower Loup, Tri-Basin and Twin Platte natural resources districts; the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission; University of Nebraska Extension Service; Pheasants and Quail Forever; and the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District.
For more information, contact David Carr, prescribed fire coordinator, Central Platte Natural Resources District, Grand Island, at 308-385-6282.