Native plant communities, and particularly grassland systems can benefit from periodic, low-intensity fires and other natural processes that reduce competition from taller plants and trees. Land managers use fire ecology for restoration purposes through a process called prescribed burning. Prescribed burning is a controlled, planned, and scientific management tool widely used to manage vegetation under very specific and safe conditions. When used as part of an adaptive management program, prescribed burning can result in an overall healthier landscape by removing dead pant material, restoring nutrients to the soils, and suppressing trees as well as some non-native species.
The San Antonio River Authority uses prescribed burning as a land management tool to help maintain the Mission Reach Ecosystem Restoration Project. In June 2018 the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) conducted its first prescribed burn in an effort to promote a resilient and diverse plant and wildlife community, reduce thatch and restore nutrients to the soil, suppress invasive species, and promote environmental education and sustainable landscape practices.
Prescribed burning is a controlled, planned, and scientific land management tool widely used to manage excessive vegetation under very specific and safe conditions.
The River Authority conducted its second burn in February 2019. "Cool" season burns, or burns that are conducted in the winter are more likely to help promote the growth of native species whereas "warm" season burns, or burns conducted in the Summer are used more to suppress growth of non-native species. Regardless of the season, prescribed burning will aid in management by reducing cover, removing thatch, suppressing woody encroachment, and restoring nutrients to the soil.
After a prescribed burn, it is common to see increased diversity of plant and animal species. In addition, plants exhibit new growth that is beneficial to wildlife. Wildlife may be temporarily displaced during a prescribed burn, but will often return to find the habitat improved. In addition, research shows there are usually more insects found in rejuvenated burn areas compared to unburned areas. The increase in insects means more food available for birds and other wildlife.