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Two workers supervising a prescribed burn


A “Burning” Ecological Question

In western rangelands, the use of prescribed fire is a practice that can help control invasive weeds, improve forage quality, increase plant diversity, and maintain wildlife habitats. Although prescribed fire mimics the natural growth and regeneration cycle brought about by wildfires, some rangeland managers are reluctant to use it and opt to use mowing or grazing instead.

ARS scientists in Miles City, MT, decided to investigate the matter. They found that while mowing offered some benefits, prescribed fire proved better at rejuvenating the soil, eliminating combustible debris, and promoting the growth of nutrient-rich grasses for cattle.

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