Tuesday, December 1, 2009

burn baby, burn

As I mentioned, a couple of years ago Rick and Toni decided to restore 40 of their 80 acres back into a prairie.

This spring, with the help of the local fire department, they did their first controlled burn.
People who know what they are talking about (not me) recommend doing a controlled burn every few years.
These fires would happen naturally due to lightning strikes, dry dead plant material and dry spells etc, but you don't really want an uncontrolled fire happening near your house.

Besides, a fast moving fire is good for the prairie.

Burning the prairie clears the field of plants that are not supposed to be there. Unlike prairie grasses, invasive species, tree and shrub saplings etc are not addapted to survive the fire. They are killed giving the prairie plants a chance to establish themselves and flourish.

The prairie plants survive because of their remarkably deep root system- some grasses have roots up to 15 foot deep!

It also adds nutrients to the soil, and can increase the amount of moisture that reaches the roots.

Plus, all the flames and smoke make for some pretty amazing photos.
Photos by Ryan Sturtz (except the top one. which was by me.)

3 comments:

the Lost Earring said...

This is so interesting. Love the first, third, and sixth photos. The poet in me sees this in a symbolic way, it made me think of renewal of the self. Sometimes we must stimulate our growth by doing away with things that may not be the best for us in the long term. The things that make us who we are, deeply rooted like the prairie plants, will flourish.

Thanks for sharing this :)

rls said...

nicely written . . . "ecology 460" in a nutshell . . . well done!

abigail said...

thanks! I learned it all from you. ;)