On Wednesday of this week, we took advantage of the eerily warm November temperatures to conduct our second prescribed fire of the fall. This one will help concentrate some spring grazing in an area where we want to suppress grass dominance and rehabilitate forb diversity. The fire was also a great opportunity for further training of some young conservation staff. In addition to Eric and Katharine, our two Hubbard Fellows, we also had three young interns/technicians from a couple of our conservation partners, the Crane Trust and Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary.
Anyone who has seen prairie fires up close gains an appreciation of their speed, heat, and power. Harnessing a force like that to achieve prairie management objectives takes careful planning, solid training and good equipment. The fire this week went as smoothly as could be hoped for, but – as with every burn I lead – my stomach was still knotted up until the last of the big flames had been extinguished. After we were done, I took a leisurely and therapeutic walk around the perimeter of the burned area, both to confirm that everything was secure and to envision the positive impact the burn will make as next year’s growing season begins.