Despite dry conditions, more than 3,000 acres burned during training
Wednesday, 08 April 2015 08:26
Fifty-five participants plus 14 days, minus some “red flag” days, equaled another successful Fire Training Exchange in the Niobrara Valley.
“The training was a huge success,” Rich Walters, program director for The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve, said. “The most important lesson we can impart is that safety is paramount. As much as we might want to, we simply do not burn when the wind isn’t right, or it’s too dry. Fortunately conditions were favorable enough to get 3,691 acres burned.”
Walters said fire is a natural and necessary ecological process.
“Fire can be your best friend or your worst enemy,” Walters said. “We’ve certainly experienced both. Our aim is to maintain fire’s role in this landscape for the benefit of people and nature. Fire is a major influence on ecosystems, and when we can restore it successfully we manage against invasive species, and really invigorate grasses.”
This is the sixth year the exchange has been held at the preserve. A total of 55 firefighters, college students and professors, fire practitioners and ranchers met during the two weeks. As part of their lessons, they burned on seven units, both at the preserve and at the Fort Niobrara Refuge.
The exchange was the culmination of a year of planning and coordinating. Prior to any units being burned, months of preparation occurs.
“Burn units are based on grassland management needs, research and location,” Walters said.
He said all units are within grazed pastures.
“We don’t set aside grass to implement a burn. We use fire and grazing together, within the same pastures, to manage the rangelands. Our objective is to create a mosaic of grasslands that differ in vegetation species and structure. This diverse range of plant species and structure provides habitat for a diverse range of wildlife and resilient grasslands for grazing.”
Jeremy Bailey, associate director for fire training for The Nature Conservancy, said, “The trainings in Nebraska are exemplary. These trainings were really developed in Nebraska over the past several years. Now the Nebraska model is being replicated all over the world.”
The participants included 25 students and professors from six different universities: University of Idaho, Northern Arizona University, Colorado State University, University of Missouri, University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and Doane College.
“Nebraska has become a spring break destination for students who are interested in fire science,” Walters said. “They are serious about safety and professionalism.”
They were joined by 35 others from 12 different states, including personnel from Washington State, the Los Angeles Fire Department, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, the Gering Volunteer Fire Department, and other state and national agencies. The preserve also welcomed 11 participants from Spain.
They leave Nebraska having implemented techniques such as black lining, which is burning around a unit with very low, controllable flames, so the fire stays within control lines. They spent classroom time learning about ecology, wildfire prevention, and cell phone technology to use during fires. They scouted units, patrolled assignments, practiced as teams, executed plans, and did mop-up after the burns.
“Nebraska’s resource managers are dedicated to bringing fire to landscapes that need it, and pooling resources and professional expertise makes this event a success,” Walters said. “We’re already thinking about next year.”
2015 VHS Prom Candidates
Wednesday, 08 April 2015 08:16
Prom candidates this year from Valentine High School are: Brooks Coleman, son of Lonnie and Renee Coleman, Cameron Perrett, son of Brian and Michelle Perrett, Lucas Stoger, son of Bob and Margaret Stoger, Savannah Dean, daughter of Bob and Marcella Dean, Sophie Lopez, daughter of Kent and Beth Lopez, and Caitlin Young, daughter of Shelly Young.
This year's theme is "Enchanted Forest". The Banquet will be held at the Peppermill Restaurant this Saturday, April 11, at 6 pm. Doors for the dance will open around 6:45 pm and will close at 7:30 pm to all students and dates. The dance is a one-way door at all times. Crowning of the Royalty will be after the start of the promenade between 8-8:15 pm in the gym. The public is invited to attend the promenade and crowning. The dance is from 9 pm until midnight. Parents will be hosting the Post Prom party at the 4-H building from midnight until 4 am.