We’ll burn that prairie when we get to it

Members of Team Echinacea are freshly returned from a successful burn outing! We completed five experimental burns during our trip to western MN. A major win for the experimental design of our MN ENRTF funded research on prescribed fire and ground nesting bees as well as for conservation! Here is the scoop:

Late Friday night we got to the Hjelm House and were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis. In hindsight, I think this auspicious sighting boded well for our good fortune in burning conditions.

On Saturday morning we headed to Torgeson’s to burn the northern unit. Because it was predicted to be a dry day, we got an early start and were ready to burn by 10:45. We got to see lots of spring flora before the burn: pucoons, violets, sedges, pussytoes, etc… These plants will be even happier next year. With help from Lee, the burn went very smoothly. Torgeson’s is a hilly site, so the burn was slope driven and we had a great view. Things are pretty greened up in the area, so the burn was quite smoky. USFWS, who were burning a big restoration right next door must have been burning cattails- look at that thick, brown smoke coming from the other side of the road. Almost like we are having bonfires at neighboring campsites. Cute!

Jared secures the break at torgen before we stand back and watch the fire burn out.

Next we ventured into Grant County. No burning there- and if you’ve been following along that may not be a surprise to you. So it was back to Douglas Co. After lunch the crew headed to hutch to burn the western unit. Another Hilly site. We prepped our breaks and were ready to go! Burn number 2 down!

Sunday was a no-burn day because wildfire smoke from Canada was hanging over many counties in MN. A great day to get work done on the porch and venture into Morris to revisit old haunts. We anxiously awaited the next day’s updated report on burn restrictions.

Monday morning we got the go ahead to burn in Grant county!! We called in our backups (former team members Daytona and Liam plus a few of Liam’s friends) and headed to Yellow Orchid Hill West to train our first time burners in at a smaller site. The wind was squirrely but our burn was successful and we were just a hop, skip and a jump away from the revered hulze unit. After 3 failed attempts, was this finally our day?

Stuart and Jared watch the last flames burn out in the center of hulze.

Yes! Drive down highway 55 and you will see for yourself! A hilly expanse of charred earth! A sight for sore eyes after the last burn way, way back in 2003.

By this time, restrictions were lifted in Douglas Co. and the crew headed to Nice Island for a final burn before calling it a day and heading back to the farmhouse. Over Jean’s rhubarb cake we envisioned a utopian or maybe dystopian future on team Echinacea where we have a high tech call center and everything is drone operated. We’ll keep you posted on the call center and the rest of the burns we hope to get done this season.


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