burning kjs 2021

For our fourth and final burn of the afternoon on May 4, 2021, we ventured back into Douglas County for a burn at kjs. Earlier in the day, Mia and I prepared burn breaks by cutting woody plants and mowing burn breaks. Despite increasing humidity and less consistent winds, the prescribed burn at kjs proceeded quickly and produced a beautifully consistent burn. We ignited a mowed a line in the southeast corner along our mowed burn break. Once the line was secure and we had 5-10 feet of black (burned area downwind), the crew split with one line lighting along Elk Lake Rd and the other along the dirt access road. Realized winds midway through the burn were lighter and more variable than anticipated. A couple ENE/NE wind gusts turned our backing fire into 5 second headfires (not part of the plan!) so we made a quick decision to ignite around the remaining perimeter and finish up the burn while avoiding any further unexpected wind shifts. We extinguished a couple remaining hotspots, packed up our equipment, and returned to the Echinacea Project research base for dinner after a successful day of burning.

While the prescribed burn at kjs was completed in just over 15 minutes, this and other burns are the culmination of weeks if not months of planning and preparation. Safety is our #1 priority when conducting prescribed burns. We developed written burn plans for each unit outlining the conditions (e.g. temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, fuel conditions, etc.) when fire should behave predictibly and a burn can be conducted safely. This is the prescribed part of prescribed burns. Our burn plan also includes a step-by-step plan for igniting a fire and keeping it contained within the burn unit.

Stay tuned for more prescribed burns and our research investigating the effects of fire on plant reproduction and population dynamics in fragmented prairies!

Temperature – 53 F
Relative humidity – 26%
Wind speed (max gusts) – 8 (16) mph
wind direction – NNW
Ignition time – 6:11 PM
End time – 6:27 PM
Burn crew: Jared, Stuart, Gretel, Mia


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