Special to The Sun
Sharing is caring, effective and efficient.
Started by Oklahoma State University, burn associations have been around the state for more than 10 years. As ironic as it may be, these associations have been spreading like wildfire since the idea came to fruition within the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at OSU.
“There are now 15 associations in the state covering 30 counties with more than 350 members,” said John Weir, rangeland ecology and management research associate. “In the last three years, six of the most active associations have conducted 125 burns on more than 60,000 acres. And that’s done the right way and done safely.”
The central idea of the associations is for landowners to pool their equipment and help each other burn safely.
“In areas where you have small land ownernships, where the pastures aren’t as big and you have fragmented ownership, people want to burn, but they have concerns about burning and not being able to do it,” Weir said. “It gives you added equipment and labor to make the burns safer. One of the biggest benefits members will see is a reduction in liability.”
Some landowners may be a bit apprehensive to burn because of lack of experience or the threat of a fire moving to a neighbor’s land. By joining as burn associations, these landowners can manage these risks with more experienced people.
“If the fire would happen to escape and spread to a neighboring area, it may be another member of the association who is probably going to burn anyway,” Weir said. “It is neighbor helping neighbor, sharing resources.”
Many of the associations receive financial aid through federal and local grants and donations, including some vehicles from local fire departments that support the burn associations.
“It’s a win-win situation for not only the landowners, but also the community in general,” Weir said. “I’d love to see every county in the state have them.”
For landowners interested in joining a burn association near their property, or starting an association if none are near by, information can be found at www.oklahomaprescribedfire
council.okstate.edu. Also, county Extension educators can be contacted for additional information.