Crow’s Nest: Prescribed Fire today

April 10, 2017

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

Today we held our first prescribed fire of the year—very late! The late snow and rain that followed has compressed our season. We’re grateful for the opportunity nonetheless.

Above, intern Riley Clark-Long lights one line of the fire. We provide the opportunity for training for prescribed fire for our interns each year. This winter Riley completed Federal courses in Wildland Firefighting and Wildland Fire Behavior, and took training and a physical fitness test with the rest of Natural Lands Trust staff that conducts prescribed burns.

Above, the other crew, led by Sean Quinn (an intern from years ago, now Preserve Manager at NLT’s Cheslen Preserve) works its way up the hill toward us. We have to create a black line (a burned-out edge) that stays ahead of any fire they send toward us.

We strive for an upright smoke column (above). That means there is sufficient heat generated in the meadow for our management goals, and also disperses the smoke out of the immediate neighborhood.

That’s our house in the background (above). Now we can watch the field green up from our porch. It will do that quickly over the next couple weeks.

Above and below, before and after photos of a high-bush blueberry in the second meadow we burned today. Even with all the rain we had last week, the surface fuels (grass and dead leaves) are very dry, yet underneath the ground is wet enough to get a vehicle stuck (we didn’t, though).

I also like clean edges on our prescribed fires—they’re a sign of the intentionality of what we’re doing. Prescribed fire more closely mimics a natural activity than mowing, the other alternative for maintaining meadows in our region. We burn our meadows on about a 5 – 6 year rotation, and mow most of them once a year in between.

Thank you to the Natural Lands Trust team of Land Stewardship staff who cooperates to make these burns possible.