How Fire Helps

So how is it that fire, such a seemingly destructive force, can be so beneficial to grasslands and brushlands and the wildlife that live there?

Fire acts as nature's "gardener" by "trimming" back trees and over-mature shrubs that shade out sun-dependent plants such as grasses and prairie flowers. After a burn, the blackened soil quickly absorbs sunlight. The warmed earth encourages seed germination. Charred plant remains turn into a rich fertilizer, encouraging new grass growth to sprout from the network of root systems deep below the ground.

In pastures and meadows, the new growth can be top-notch cattle forage. In ungrazed areas, the dense grasses provide hiding and nesting places for birds and other wildlife. Deer often use lush meadows and grasslands as loafing areas.

Forest opening burned in the spring, when the woods are full of snow, are the first areas to green up, providing lush food for hungry deer.