The first prescribed burn of 2021

Hi, flog!

Last week Stuart, Gretel, Jared, and I headed northward from Chicago to Minnesota to perform the first prescribed burn of the season! On our drive up we hit some snow that was almost whiteout conditions very exciting, especially for April. We arrived in Douglas County late Wednesday night and quickly bundled into our sleeping bags.

The next morning, we walked the unit/p8 and saw two bald eagles flying over the plot, we decided that this was a good omen for the burn. There are two areas in the unit that haven’t been burned in the past that we decided to burn this year, this was the island that is northeast of the plot and the “bee trees”. After examining the unit we set off to prep the unit and gather supplies. After a break for lunch, we ran a test of how the wooded area would burn by burning the island area. This burn went well, the fire moved slowly but we did kill a frog :(. Halfway through this burn Ruth and Frank arrived from the Cities, they were greeted with excitement and backpack sprayers.

After the success of burning through the woods in the island, we decided to burn through the bee trees. The bee trees burned very slowly Frank and I spend most of the burn focused on ensuring that no sparks from the bee’s trees got taken in the wind downhill. To the south of the bee trees, the burn brake is only mowed and still has quite a bit of brome that could be fuel. We were all shocked by the civilized behavior that the fire had around this burn break. Once we had a sufficient backfire Stuart light the head fire in the windward portion of the plot and boy it was spectacular. Our civilized fire politely ripped through the brome of p8 and even left many pin flags untouched!

After we were satisfied with the large p8 unit fire being out we gathered, including John VanKempen who arrived during the course of the p8 burn. We then headed down to Jean’s prairie plant garden and Jared, who was the burn boss for the final two burns, light a nice line around the perimeter of the garden, this burn only took 16 minutes. When we were waiting for the garden to burn we noticed a small adjacent patch of dried duff and we decided to burn that too! This burn went even faster than the prairie garden it was also much more powerful.

After the prairie garden and adjacent area were done burning, Stuart, Gretel, Jared and I made sure that everything was put out back at p8. We found a smoldering log and made some s’mores!

The next day, Jared and I inspected the remnant sites that we are planning on burning. Jared, Stuart, and I also broadcast some native prairie seeds (mostly two grasses: side-oats grama and little bluestem) that we collected in the fall in p8.

We performed this burn a week ago now, on Earth Day, performing a prescribed burn that aids in the restoration of the prairie was a wonderful way to celebrate. This was my first prescribed burn, overall it was really fun, impressive, exciting, and also boring. I am very excited to be heading back up to Minnesota to conduct more burns but also to see how the community changes after the burn.

Until next time,


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