Fire Management and Invasive Plants - A Handbook (US Fish and Wildlife Service)

Fire management can help maintain natural habitats, increase forage for wildlife, reduce fuel loads that might otherwise lead to catastrophic wildfire, and maintain natural succession. Today, there is an emerging challenge that fire managers need to be aware of: invasive plants. Fire management activities can create ideal opportunities for invasions by nonnative plants, potentially undermining the benefits of fire management actions.

This manual provides practical guidelines that fire managers should consider with respect to invasive

plants.

What’s the Link Between Fire and Plant Invasion? The growth and spread of any plant species depends on two main factors: 1) plant propagule availability: the abundance of seeds and other plant propagules (i.e., parts of a plant that can produce a new individual), and 2) plant resource availability: the amount and quality of resources (sunlight, soil nutrients, etc.) that newly arrived propagules need to grow.

Postfire conditions can create ideal habitat for certain plants. When those conditions are created within easy range of the propagules of invasive plants, the situation is ripe for an invasion.

What Can Fire Managers Do?The best approaches fire managers can take for reducing the potential for invasive plant infestations are to minimize or eliminate the introduction of invasive plant propagules into fire management areas and minimize the amount of resources available to any such plants that might find their way into the burned area.

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