June 14 & 15, 2016: Case Studies of Fire in Prairies, Oak Savannas and Woodlands

Exploring Diverse Objectives and Initial Outcomes Across Southern Iowa and Northern Missouri 



Learn More About the Region



This tour visited four actively-managed sites in southern Iowa and northern Missouri.

These four site visits highlighted how conditions at each site may reflect broader patterns while other factors generate challenges unique to each site. The four sites included:

  • sites with different initial levels of canopy cover;
  • remnant vegetation from prairie to oak woodland; and
  • sites at different points in management - from sites without management interventions, to sites that have had initial treatments, to sites that have had long-term management.

 The sites allowed us to address three key topics:

  1. how to assess a sites's current condition and likely response to management, 
  2. the influence of fire frequency and timing on the system, and
  3. the transition from long periods of fire suppression to early stages of thinning and burning.

Speakers shared decades of professional experience and research addressing management objectives including  invasive species control, promoting native plant diversity and ecosystem function, improving habitat for game species and rare species, and oak regeneration and recruitment.




Tuesday, June 14

10:30 am: Meet at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa


11:30 am: Travel to Slip Bluff County Park

12:00 pm: Lunch (provided) and introductions

12:45 pm: Walking tour of Slip Bluff County Park

Lessons learned about thinning and prescribed fire treatments at an oak savanna/woodland demonstration site - Gregg Pattison, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Richard Erke, Decatur County Conservation

Sizing up degraded oak savannas: indicators of restorable oak savanna - Pauline Drobney, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Prairie and Savanna Zone Biologist

2:30 pm: Tour Orvis Savanna

Lessons learned from thinning and annual burns across a mosaic of prairie, savanna, and woodland - Gregg Pattison, and John and Sharon Orvis, private landowners

The role of fire in oak regeneration in savannas and woodlands - Daniel Dey, Research Forester, US Forest Service Northern Research Station

6:15 pm: BBQ Dinner at Graceland University

7:00 pm: Keynote presentation

Douglas Ladd, Missouri Director of Conservation for The Nature Conservancy

Wednesday, June 15

9:30 am: Meet at Putnam County Fairgrounds, Unionville, Missouri to caravan to Site 3

10:00 am: Tour Site 3, Prairie and Savanna

Lessons learned from multiple integrated treatments to reverse woody species encroachment in prairies and savannas - John Murphy, Private Lands Coordinator, Sullivan and Adair Counties, Missouri Department of Conservation

Fire return interval - suppressing native and invasive woody species - Mike Leahy, Natural Areas Coordinator, Missouri Department of Conservation

11:30: Lunch at Site 3

12:45 pm: Tour Site 4, Prairie, Savanna, and Woodland

Effects of fire on threatened and endangered species - Krista Noel, NE Regional Natural History Biologist, Missouri Department of Conservation

Reducing fuel loads following thinning - effects of time since thinning and burn timing on fire severity - John Murphy, Private Lands Coordinator, Sullivan and Adair Counties, Missouri Department of Conservation

Oak regeneration in oak woodlands - response to basal area reduction and fire during restoration - Daniel Dey, Research Forester, US Forest Service Northern Research Station


The sites are located between Lamoni, Iowa, and Kirksville, Missouri.


Post Field Event Meeting: Focus On Next Steps

On Thursday, June 16, we will convene in Kirksville from 9 am to noon. View or download a PDF version of the workshop description and agenda.

This gathering will be an opportunity to deepen understanding of the wealth of information delivered during the first two days. Providing time to dig deeper into lessons learned, ask questions, and explore areas of uncertainty, is a piece that's often left out, yet is important to processing new information and taking action.

Workshop objectives include:


  1. Provide all participants the opportunity to share and review key takeaways from the field tours (contribute to distilling main points that need to be shared);
  2. Provide all participants an opportunity for an informal peer-review - to share your level of confidence in the information provided on the field tours, based on experience with sites you manage or research.