Prescribed burns to begin at Nebraska National Forest

US Forest Service

Fire managers on the Bessey Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forest plan to conduct a series of prescribed, broadcast burns beginning the week of March 12 and continuing through May 15, 2017 as weather conditions allow. The broadcast burns are planned on up to 12,000 acres of the native grasslands.

According to Julie Bain, Bessey District Ranger, “These broadcast prescribed burns are intended to reduce the encroachment of Eastern red cedar trees into the native prairie. Last year, our broadcast burns killed most of the small (3 feet tall or less) Eastern red cedar trees. The prescribed fires also killed more large trees than we expected. Burning is the most economical method of preventing cedar encroachment on large acreages. Fire is a natural disturbance process that can rejuvenate the grasslands and promote forbs that support pollinators.”

Staff have already cut and piled large Eastern red cedar trees on a footprint of 2,035 acres this year. The piles may be burned separately next winter, or with the broadcast burns depending on the weather conditions.

Prescribed fires are managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.

Smoke from the prescribed burns may be visible from Thedford, Dunning, Highway 2, Highway 83, and other areas around the Middle Loup and Dismal Rivers. Lingering smoke may be present for up to one week after ignitions are complete.

If you would like to be notified the day the broadcast burns will take place, please call the front desk at 308-533-2257 or email For technical questions about this prescribed burn, please contact Tedd Teahon at 308.880.0540 or the Bessey Ranger District at 308-533-2257.