Photo of the Week – April 17, 2015

We are behind on our burn schedule this year.  The weather hasn’t been great for carrying out safe and effective burns, so we’ve only gotten a few done.  Our prescribed fires are always part of broader management plans, often including cattle grazing, so we have specific objectives for when and how we want a site to burn.  Some plans call for a dormant season fire, other call for a growing season fire.  This spring, we’re already transitioning into the growing season and still have some dormant season fires that we didn’t get done between November and March.  That means we’ll have to adjust our management plans for those properties (as we often do).

During periods of wild weather variability such as those over the last several months, completing a burn is even more satisfying than normal.  Here are a couple photos from a recent fire we used to set up patch-burn grazing and facilitate over-seeding of a degraded prairie.

Mardell Jasnowski lights a "flanking head fire" at a recent burn in our Platte River Prairies.

The Nature Conservancy’s Mardell Jasnowski lights a “flanking head fire” at a recent burn in our Platte River Prairies.

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Here, Mardell is waiting for the rest of the crew to catch up to her.  The ATV driver is pulling a trailer of water and spraying the fire to keep it from creeping into the mowed firebreak.

After the fire is over, the crew relaxes and discusses what went well and what didn't.

After the fire is over, the crew relaxes and discusses what went well and what didn’t.  We share crews with several partners along the river.  In this case, we had help from the Central Platte Natural Resources District.

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
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7 Responses to Photo of the Week – April 17, 2015

  1. Jasmine says:

    Mardell looks like a superhero!

  2. Randall, John L says:

    Dear Prairie Ecologist: I have really enjoyed your posts, which speak to what we are doing in the southeast in our own Piedmont “prairies” and savannas. Would you be interested in having a contribution from our part of the world?

    I’ve attached a few of images from our savanna fire management.

    Sincerely,
    Johnny Randall

    Johnny Randall, Ph.D.
    Director of Conservation Programs
    North Carolina Botanical Garden
    UNC-Chapel Hill
    Chapel Hill NC 27599
    Office – 919-962-2380
    Cell – 919-923-0100
    http://www.ncbg.unc.edu

  3. Tracey says:

    HI Chris, just wondering if there is any documents you can share which talk about your objectives and when a dormant or active season burn is required. I’m doing some pb planning…

  4. I noted the water spray from the ATV to control turf flame creep across the mowed fuel break.

    Give this a try (with the spray backup). Procure some large, say, 2- or 3-ft by 4- to 8-ft flat metal panels. Wire two of these in trailing sequence, and merely pull these snuffing panels over the creeping turf fires. If adequate in size (experiment), these should effectively snuff out the creeping turf fires without expending the water. Much faster, more efficient.

    We intend to give a trial to this here at NASA Plum Brook Station in northern Ohio, where we are restoring 3000 acres of native Ohio tallgrass prairie. Most of our objectionable smoke comes from creeping turf fires in the cool-season mowed grasses along the roads of our prairie managment units. We anticipate we can efficiently suppress that.

    Give it a try. (Doesn’t work in prairie, of course; but looks very useful in mowed fuel break turf.)

    John Blakeman

  5. Pingback: What’s the Best Time to Burn? | The Prairie Ecologist

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