Fire and prairies go together like bologna and ketchup. (There is no discussion about that, by the way, it’s just a fact.)
It’s always fun to watch prairies green up following a prescribed fire. Plant regrowth is rapid and vigorous, especially after a fire that takes place just as the growing season is starting. In fact, because the soil warms up faster in recently burned areas, we often see plant species emerging weeks earlier where we’ve burned than in unburned prairies. The photos below were all taken one week after a fire we conducted at The Platte River Prairies this spring.
Rosinweed (Silphium integrifolium) and grasses in restored prairie.
Rainwater filled this created wetland after it was burned, creating excellent habitat for migratory shorebirds and many other creatures in what was formerly a corn field.
False gromwell (Onosmodium molle) was one of the fastest to re-emerge from this spring’s burn.
Beautiful two-toned grass shoots were scattered across much of the burned prairie.
Now that this week’s blizzard has come and gone, we are left with knee-deep snow all around us. I made it to a small local prairie yesterday morning and trudged around with my camera for a while. There was plenty to see, but I spent quite a bit of time just photographing the tracings made by grass leaves blowing in the wind.
An arc in the snow made by wind-blown grass.
It’s rare that I see a complete circle made by grasses, but I found several yesterday morning.
A broader mark made by a curve in the leaf blade rather than the tip.
Multiple marks made by curly leaves.
After two days of hearing the wind howl outside and the kids howl inside, it was a pleasant relief to be able to walk in relative silence, hearing only the muffled sounds of my own footfalls. The morning was calm, but the grass leaf tracings and snow drifts testified to the strength of the winds during the previous days. I’m hoping to do some more walking in the next few days before the snow starts to melt too much…