Saturday, March 26, 2011

Annual Prairie Burn

Prescribed burn (photo by Rachel Smith)This was the 16th burn of the tall grasses (Big Bluestem, Indian grass, Switch grass, and various forb stems) in the bottom floodplain at Habitat Home. We were a little reluctant to do the burn yesterday (Friday, March 25th) as there was not much wind (wind speed 5 mph with gusts to 8 mph) and it was cold (39 degrees). However, neighbors Tom, Sue, Rachel, Jake and friend Phillip, neighbors Betsy and Peter, and Master Naturalist Eileen were all able to help out despite the short notice. (It is spring break after all!)

We gathered together at 1 pm. Lex was the burn boss and explained the plan to the group. Everyone was outfitted in cotton clothes, boots, gloves, flappers and handkerchiefs. Water, both for drinking and fire suppression, was readily available. The local volunteer fire department was notified as were the neighbors. The burn was started against the wind, along the west edge and south borders, then moving to the upwind side along the east and north edges. It was one of the most classic burns, actually putting itself out when the various lines met. We were treated to high leaping flames and the heat from the fire was welcomed on such a cool day. The 5 acres were burned in less than 90 minutes. Thank you neighbors for all your flapping, and thank you Rachel for the photojournalism and permission to use this photo.

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