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Iowa DNR continues to help property owners after prescribed burn that went bad


This news story was published on April 22, 2014.
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VINTON, IOWA – Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff and a dozen AmeriCorps members returned Thursday and Friday of last week to help landowners impacted from the April 11 fire north of Vinton, clean up the damage.

The damage occurred when a prescribed fire by the DNR on the Red Fox Wildlife Area in the process of being extinguished jumped to adjoining properties to the east and began burning parts of 160 acres.

The Iowa DNR has contacted the impacted property owners and provided them with the options available to recover their losses.

“We are working to rectify the situation that happened last Friday and in the future by reviewing our burn policy, making adjustments on the landowner contact requirements and emphasizing the importance of the burn policy to our staff,” said Scott Peterson, wildlife district supervisor with the Iowa DNR.

Peterson said the investigation into the fire found that staff had failed to contact adjacent residents and those in the area where the smoke will disperse, which is part of the smoke management procedure.

The DNR uses burning as a management tool to help fend off encroaching woody species and nonnative plants in an effort to promote diverse native grasses and wildflowers. Burning removes the accumulated thatch and reinvigorates native plants by simulating what occurred naturally for centuries.

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An initial review of the prescribed fire in Benton County on April 11 found the National Weather Service was not in any way in error and that certain steps as part of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources internal burn policy were not followed.

“We never want something like this to happen and thankfully no one was injured and only minimal property damage occurred. The local fire departments did an excellent job responding and we will use this as a teaching point during our annual fire training,” said DNR Director Chuck Gipp.

The prescribed burn was going accordingly until the wind shifted. Once the wind shifted, staff began to extinguish the fire. The fire re-ignited and jumped to adjoining properties to the east. Once that happened, local responders were called in to help control the fire.

“The National Weather Service is a trusted partner of ours and they provided us with the correct information that we requested for Johnson County, but we failed to contact them for the burn in Benton County,” Gipp said.

The investigation found that staff had failed to contact adjacent residents and those in the area where the smoke will disperse, which is part of the smoke management procedure and Gipp said they will take steps to correct that through additional training.

Gipp said a full investigation into the fire will be conducted.

“We will not burn until we do these things in the future,” he said. “This is in our burn policy. We will revisit it and make sure our staff have a clear understanding of the importance that each of these steps have in a prescribed burn.”

The DNR uses burning as a management tool to help fend off encroaching woody species and nonnative plants in an effort to promote diverse native grasses and wildflowers. Burning removes the accumulated thatch and reinvigorates native plants by simulating what occurred naturally for centuries.

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13 Responses to Iowa DNR continues to help property owners after prescribed burn that went bad

  1. Avatar

    sad but true Reply Report comment

    April 23, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    If it would have been a private citizen that did this, they would have hung him and fined him into poverty! But, being it was the government, no big deal

  2. Avatar

    Philosophus Reply Report comment

    April 23, 2014 at 9:52 am

    I totally agree with the other comment. STOP these ridiculous RAPES of nature. Nature will take care of itself. Man is ignorant and arrogant. The DNR just wants to justify their existence and budget. Think of how much life that was killed. It’s akin to genocide. Barbers!

    • Avatar

      Philosophus Reply Report comment

      April 23, 2014 at 10:09 am

      I’m starting to really grasp that Iowa for the most part is a RAPED APE barren wasteland of Agro Chemical processing, and slash and burn farming. Just imagine what it looked like before Lewis and Clark (the Scouts of Death) came through. Diverse, lush, green, beautiful. It’s time for man to GO. I wish a highly enlightened ALIEN race would come to Earth with the capability of discerning who was good for the planet and who was bad…then vaporize those who are bad. Earth needs a REST.

      • Avatar

        Really Reply Report comment

        April 23, 2014 at 10:55 am

        What if their space ship landed on our planet with loud straight pipe mufflers??? They might pick you to be vaporized first.

      • Avatar

        Messy Blumpkin Reply Report comment

        April 23, 2014 at 5:13 pm

        You would for sure be vaporized.

  3. Avatar

    Just the facts Reply Report comment

    April 23, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Well if takes out some deer population, Lightem up!! They cause death and property destruction.

  4. Avatar

    LVS Reply Report comment

    April 23, 2014 at 8:27 am

    Completely disagree with these controlled burns. Nature will take care of itself if we quit interfering with it. All this does is destroy habitat and kill wildlife.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      April 23, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      It creates the correct habitat. Controls weeds brush. These burns don’t happen to the same plot every year. The idea it killing habitat is totally irresponsible statement. People made mistakes with protocol. Geocide, rape of the land you weird little enviromentalists. Same people that want nothing done to the national forests in the way of cleaning up underbrush and maintaining the forests. When a fire hits your perfect trees go up in smoke.

      • Avatar

        LVS Reply Report comment

        April 23, 2014 at 6:27 pm

        @Anonymous-who made you a expert on anything except trolling? Anyone who thinks burning in the wild doesn’t kill wildlife and destroy habitat is flat stupid. When they burn ditches it is a hell of a lot different than brush in a forest.

  5. Avatar

    badpontiac Reply Report comment

    April 23, 2014 at 8:24 am

    These controlled burns have eliminated over 50% of wildlife in Iowa and are nothing more than stupid acts committed by stupid people.

    • Avatar

      Really Reply Report comment

      April 23, 2014 at 10:51 am

      50% Where did you get that number?? Sounds made up. Turkeys, coyotes, bobcats, deer, fox are all on the rise in Iowa.

    • Avatar

      Messy Blumpkin Reply Report comment

      April 23, 2014 at 7:02 pm

      You made up that number, you are no better than Peter.

  6. Avatar

    Bob Wolfram Reply Report comment

    April 23, 2014 at 6:35 am

    The burn is overused & abused as a feel good conservation tool
    Time to cut back the presciption a little and put more physical efforts on taking care of a lacking state park infrastructure.