More pollinator habitat through more frequent fire
The draft document calls for a reduction in fire frequency, from once every 3 years to once every 5 – 8 years. While this assumption seems to make linear sense, we need to consider complex ecological systems more often display non-linear behavior, and our stories need to adjust to capture a broader array of potential outcomes. Decreasing fire frequency will increase fuel loads which will likely increase fire intensity. We can see how fire suppression management in coniferous forests resulted in heavy fuel loads which when ignited cause catastrophic fire resulting in a permanent loss of the very resource we intended to protect.
I would rather see an increase in fire frequency, when possible, in every season, in order to mimic historic Amerindian fire. Fall burning was an important mechanism to maintain lawns in the groves and openings by reducing leaf litter which would smoother cool season vegetation. Early farmers continued the tradition of burning groves to reduce leaf litter, well into the mid twentieth century, in-variably maintaining lush vernal pools of blooming flowers. The farmers burned for the same reason the Amerindians did; to maintain grazing lawns. This cultural practice was abandon when extension favored confined animal feeding operations over pasturing. Thus the lawns were abandoned; leaf-litter quickly built up and smothered the ground layer vegetation, and eventually, non-edible weeds and woody vegetation dominated the site.
Reducing fire frequency forces land mangers to designate invertebrate refugia, whereas more frequent fire would likely result in patchy burns which would create multiple refugia across the landscape. Instead of delineating a particular space in time to serve as an invert refugia, we should instead consider restoring a process which restores invertebrate refugia across multiple scales in time and space. Also, more frequent burning in different seasons will likely create a more diverse plant community than our current burn management which reoccurs in the spring once every 3 to 5 years which seems to facilitate plant communities dominated by C-4 grasses. More frequent burning, coupled to grazing, haying, and mowing will create a highly heterogeneous landscape more suitable to a variety of pollinators and their life cycles.
In This Series
A Plan For A Better Future: Creating a Unified Pollinator Ecology
Premise 1: Pollinators are grazers
Narrative 2: The most powerful terrestrial ecosystem on earth, the Grazing Lawn
Premise 3: Cool season species are cool too
Premise 4: Decrease grass seeding rates, but increase graminoid diversity
Premise 5: Functional groups, niche theory, and seed mix design
Premise 6: Relax the current punitive genotype restrictions
Premise 7: High density patch planting
Premise 8: Nitrogen pollution is a serious threat to pollinators
Premise 9: Make hay, not war
Premise 9: More pollinator habitat through more frequent fire.
Premise 10: Afforestation, an unknown but significant threat to pollinator survival