COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry is a leader in promoting and using prescribed fire as a resource management tool in Ohio. Through the Prescribed Fire Supplies, Tools, Education, and Personal Protective Equipment (STEP) Grant program, the Division of Forestry recently approved grant funding for 21 projects totaling $46,058 for land management agencies in Ohio.
“This is a great opportunity to improve prescribed fire programs around the state,” said Division of Forestry Chief Dan Balser. “Providing our partners with the right tools is key to ensuring healthy ecosystems for the future.”
Counties with agencies receiving STEP grants include Allen, Clermont, Crawford, Erie, Franklin, Guernsey, Knox, Licking, Lucas, Montgomery, Richland, Sandusky, Summit, and Wood.
Prescribed Fire STEP grant projects are focused on supporting Ohio land management agencies by helping them to build and expand their prescribed fire programs. Items that grant recipients purchased through the STEP grant program include personal protective equipment, radios, tools, weather data devices, pumps, equipment parts, and signage.
For many land management agencies in Ohio, prescribed fire is a critical tool to maintain important habitats and ecosystems. Native prairie species are dependent upon disturbance to thrive, and prescribed fire has proven to be the most effective technique to promote growth and effective establishment of native prairie during restoration projects. Oak-hickory forests rely on fire as a disturbance to set back growth of other species so that oak seedlings can become established as a dominant species in the stand.
The Division of Forestry’s STEP grant program allows for cost-sharing to help prescribed fire programs succeed at state agencies, county park districts, metro park organizations, and other local conservation facilities. STEP grant funding is provided to the Division of Forestry by the U.S. Forest Service.