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Upcoming Events

NOTICE of rescheduled workshop:

In place of the workshop that was cancelled on July 23, SIOSA will sponsor a Monarch Bioblitz this Saturday, Aug. 4 to coincide with the 2nd international Monarch Blitz described in the email below. 

The event will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon at Slip Bluff County Park, northeast of Lamoni. Veronica Mecko will lead the group in counting milkweeds and Monarch adults, eggs and larvae.

If you are interested in participating, please email and more information will be provided. 

If you can’t attend this event consider monitoring on your property or a native wildflower area near you. Go to, Monarch Larval Monitoring Project, to get all the information you will need.

Next SIOSA board meeting

The next regular SIOSA meeting is Wednesday, April 4 at 1:00 pm.  We will be meeting at the Clarke County Conservation Board headquarters at East Lake Park.  The park is located just east of Osceola on Hwy 34.

Prescribed Burning

Prescribed Fires Basics


What is a prescribed burn (or prescribed fire)?

A prescribed burn is the intentional ignition of grass, shrub, or forest fuels for specific purposes according to predetermined conditions. Prescribed burning is a commonly used technique in forest management, farming, and prairie restoration.


Click Here to Download the Decatur County Burn Plan Form


Benefits of prescribed fire

There are many benefits to using fire as a land management tool:

•  Eliminates underbrush

DSC_0086•  Controls unwanted, invasive vegetation: unwanted vegetation encroaches and crowds more desired vegetative species

•  Rejuvenates native vegetation

•  Improves wildlife habitat: Periodic fire tends to favor understory species that require a more open habitat

•  Improves grazing: Fire will burn woody competition so that the grasses and forbs get sunlight to flourish


Overall step-by-step guide to burning (included in burn plan)

•  Meet with a team of landowners who will help you burn to discuss goals and explain the process

•  Scout property and mark fire boundaries

•  Assist in writing a burn plan and schedule the fire

•  Determine if the conditions are right to burn

•  Evaluate the success of the burn


Factors to consider when planning a prescribed burn

•  Wildlife needs

•  Existing barriers

•  Cultural resources, threatened or endangered species and animals in the area

•  Weather conditions – Wind, relative humidity, temperature, rainfall

•  Importance of getting help to burn


Conducting a prescribed fire


If any of the following conditions exist, analyze further before burning:

•  No written plan

•  No map

•  No safety briefingb_work_spring_11_11

•  Heavy fuels

•  Dry duff and soil

•  Extended drought

•  Inadequate firebreaks

•  No updated weather forecast

•  Forecast does not agree with prescription

•  Poor visibility

•  Personnel or equipment stretched thin

•  Burning large area using ground ignition

•  Communications for all people not available

•  No one notified of plans of burn

•  Behavior of test fore not as prescribed

•  A smoke management system has not been used

•  Smoke sensitive area downwind or down drainage

If any of the following conditions exist STOP burning and extinguish existing fire:

•  Fire behavior erratic

•  Spot fire occurs and is difficult to control

•  Wind shifting or other unforeseen change in weather

•  Smoke not dispersing as predicted

•  Public road or other smoke sensitive area smoked in

•  Burn does not comply with all laws, regulations, and standards

•  Large fuel, such as logs, igniting and burning

•  Not enough personnel to mop-up before dark and likely to smoke in smoke sensitive areas



Backfire – A fire set to spread against the wind to burn more slowly and remove more vegetation and litter. Backfires are often used to create a black line for additional safety when a head fire is used on the same burn area.

Flank Fire – A fire burning across the prevailing wind direction

Head Fire – A fire set to spread with the wind. Head fires are the fastest and hardest to control. They are used to manage taller shrubs and trees, leaving most litter unburned

Mop Up – The process of checking the entire perimeter of the burn area to endure all fires or smoldering materials are out. This could include cow chips, logs, dead tress and small areas still burning.

Ring Fire – A common technique that starts with a back fire, then a flank fire is lit after a safe black line is established. This is followed by the head fire, creating a fire around the entire perimeter of the burn area

Strip Fire – A technique that requires setting a line or series of lines upward from a firebreak so no single line can develop enough heat or convection to escape or cross the firebreak

High Volatile Fuels – Fuels with large amounts of compounds, such as fats, waxes or oils, that are highly flammable and can produce firebrands or wind-borne flaming debris. One example is the Eastern Red Cedar. High volatile fuels can be burned with proper precautions

Low Volatile Fuels – Fuels with small amounts of highly flammable compounds, including most grasses and hardwood trees. These fuels can burn safely within a wider range of environmental conditions that high volatile fuels

Types of Firebreak – A space clear of flammable materials to stop fire from moving out of the burn area. It also serves as a line from which to work and facilitate the movement of personnel and equipment

a) Natural Firebreaks – Primarily lakes, rivers and larger streams; usually interconnected with other types of firebreaks

b) Permanent Roads – Roads created a fuel free width of 15 to 20 feet. Permanent road firebreaks require no special burn treatments, and allow rapid, safe ignition with routing ignition and holding forces

c) Bare Soil Firebreaks – Firebreaks are tilled to bury almost all vegetation within a week of the burn date. Bare soil firebreaks should be reseeded quickly with legume species and some grasses to prevent soil erosion risk. Bare soil firebreaks are not recommended on steep, erosive slopes or on prairie remnants or sites established to native prairie vegetation

d) Mow-wetlined Firebreaks – Prepared by mowing as close to the ground as possible with rotary or sickle mowers beginning one year in advance to encourage enough green growth and reduce litter buildup to stop the fire


Common Equipment

What is a Prescribed Burn Association (PBA)?

PBAs are organized landowner cooperatives that are user owned, controlled and/or operated. Burn associations share knowledge, experience and equipment among contributing members to increase the application and safety of prescribed fire as a management tool (Texas Parks & Wildlife, 2010).

All of the equipment found on the website can be rented from the Southern Iowa Oak Savanna Alliance cache. Please contact Rich Erke (461.446.7307) for equipment check-out information.

Please Note: Active Southern Iowa Oak Savanna Alliance (SIOSA) members are able to borrow equipment from the equipment cache for free. Go to for more details on how to become a member of SIOSA.

Fire Broom

Fire Broom


Backpack Water Sprayer

Backpack Water Sprayer

ATV Water Sprayer Unit

ATV Water Sprayer Unit

Drip Torch

Drip Torch

Helmet, Gloves and Nomex Fire Retardant Clothing

Helmet, Gloves and Nomex Fire Retardant Clothing