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Analysis of prescribed burn costs and associated variables in the Great Plains

Watts, Maddie
Russell, Aaron

In the Great Plains, fire is an important land management tool essential to maintaining and preserving the region’s ecosystems. Prescribed fire is critical in perpetuating regular fire return intervals and enhancing land characteristics. Since private landowners are the primary stewards of the forest and rangeland in this region, their decision to conduct burning is important for the sustainable management of natural resources. Subsequently, the cost is one of the major obstacles in the implementation of prescribed fire. Therefore, our study objective is to understand the factors that play a role in determining operational expenses while conducting a burn. In this project, we performed a descriptive analysis and a regression analysis of cost factors using data from a survey of prescribed burn professionals in the Great Plains region. The average cost of implementing prescribed fire in the study region was found to be $11.23 per acre. The results suggest that variables such as firebreak types, number of burns conducted, and the number of acres burned may play a role in determining the cost of burning. Identification of the cost of prescribed fire and the factors influencing it allows landowners, prescribed burn professionals, and government agencies in the Great Plains to better understand, implement, and facilitate prescribed burns as part of land management plans.