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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Field tour to feature fire, wildlife, timber and cattle

STILLWATER, Okla. – Fire is nothing new to Oklahoma. Throughout history, the land has been burned by Native Americans, sparked by lightning, lit from a campfire or ignited by a prescribed fire.

To show the benefits of prescribed fire to landowners and property managers, Oklahoma State University is partnering with several state and federal agencies to host the Fire, Wildlife, Timber and Cattle Field Tour Oct. 11.

“Many people don’t understand the role of fire in the ecosystem,” said John Weir, research associate in Oklahoma State University’s Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management. “Fire has been, and still is, an essential part of maintaining healthy native grassland, shrubland and forest ecosystems and has positive impacts.”

The field tour will take place at the Pushmataha Wildlife Management Area, which covers more than 19,000 acres of southeastern Oklahoma. Located about five miles south of Clayton, the area is comprised of a mixture of oak/pine forest and savannahs, with steep slopes, shallow soils and rocky terrain.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife website, management efforts for the area focus on producing native wildlife foods such as ragweed and sunflower and maintaining the woody structure height for a variety of wildlife species. In 1982, one of the longest running research projects regarding vegetation response to fire frequency was initiated and continues on the area today.

“Prescribed fire can also be used by landowners to meet wildlife management objectives,” said Dwayne Elmore, OSU Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist. “It’s one of the most economical and effective ways to manage plant structure and composition to favor desired wildlife species.”

Weir and Jack Waymire, from the Pushmataha WMA, will present topics on prescribed fire, fire effects, wildlife management, timber management and livestock grazing.

“The impacts of a wildfire on forage production are similar to a prescribed fire and landowners should take advantage of that,” Weir said. “For example, we can expect a 10 percent to 15 percent increase in stocker cattle gain, or about one body condition score increase for cows on burned areas. This is true for either a wildfire or prescribed fire. That is why many ranchers burn. They also get the added benefit of brush control.”

Those interested in attending should RSVP to john.weir@okstate.edu. Lunch, sponsored by the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, will begin at noon with the tour immediately following at 1 p.m.

From Clayton at the intersection of state highway 2 and U.S. highway 271, go 1.8 miles south, then a half-mile west on Game Refuge Road. From there, follow road signs leading WMA visitors south 3 miles to the headquarters.

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Sean Hubbard
Communications Specialist
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157 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-4490
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: sean.hubbard@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000