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Managing vegetation composition and structure in fields using prescribed fire and combinations of fire and other treatments

Restoration and management of grasslands and early successional plant communities is commonly recommended to improve habitat for a variety of wildlife species including grassland birds and game species such as Northern Bobwhite and white-tailed deer. While the previous analogue, utilizing fire and soil disturbance as the primary tools to maintain grasslands and early succession is still very relevant, managers must adapt their approach to managing these vegetation types to meet new challenges such as widespread fire suppression, alterations in hydrology, degradation of local soil profiles and seedbanks, and exponential increases in invasive non-native species. Grassland and early succession restoration and management techniques including prescribed fire, herbicide applications, and mechanical disturbances will be discussed in the context of eastern calcareous prairies and Upper Coastal Plain soil types.

by John Gruchy, Private Lands Habitat Program Coordinator, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks

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