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Upcoming Events

For Lands' Sake Tours June 4, 3:30 PM - Nelson/Johnson tour: The Nelson walk will highlight some native prairie plants as well as Oak Savanna natives. Our timber floor has successfully burned for 3 years in a row. We have also had some thinning done with some clearing of down trees. This tour will provide a side-by-side comparison of a managed timber to the North of the driveway with an overgrown mess to the South. As I am still learning to ID native plants myself, some you are sure to see are Purple Milk Weed, Lead Plant, Jack in the Pulpit, Green Dragon Plant, a variety of sedges, and many more. Most of the terrain is hilly, so please come prepared with proper walking shoes and a walking stick if preferred. There will be prairie remnant on both sides of the fence. The Johnson property has been managed for 20+ years. DIRECTIONS: 2533 290th Street Peru, just SW of the town of Peru (located SE of Winterset). Take Peru Road to the stop sign in the town of Peru. Turn South on Odell Ave. Odell Ave. will quickly turn into Brown Street. Proceed West on Brown Street out of town (the road will turn into Gravel). The gravel road will come to a Y intersection. Stay to the right of the Y intersection to continue West on 290th Street. You will immediately notice a house to the North. Our driveway is just past the house on the North, just before you reach the bridge. There is a sign with our Name and address at the entrance of the driveway. June 25, 3:30 PM - The Shirm property and two adjoining pieces, managed for 20+ years primarily for hunting. A very high quality landscape with diverse remnants, savannas, and a prairie reconstruction. Details will be provided nearer the date.

Next SIOSA board meeting

Thursday, August 3, 7:00 PM at Decatur County Courthouse in Leon.

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