Studies have shown that wildfires have been a common occurrence in the Great Plains for many years. Wildfires provide benefits to the various plants, animals and trees that call the plains home by thinning out old vegetation and fuel, enabling new, healthy growth to thrive, providing nutrients to the soil, and by keeping future fires lower in intensity.
As humans settled the plains, an effort was made to suppress and eradicate these natural wildfires. Additionally, trees and shrubs were planted in windbreaks, shelterbelts and in open areas which have become extra fuel for fires. Nearly a century of these efforts has likely played a role in the increase in large wildfires in the plains states over the last 10 to 15 years, creating an increased need for fire management.
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