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Crow’s Nest: Prescribed fires completed

March 24, 2016

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

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We held a successful prescribed burn of four meadows at Crow’s Nest today. The predicted high winds never arrived, though light variable winds kept us on our toes. The dry conditions meant that we had unusually complete combustion for a burn here. Above we’re lighting the second meadow of the day, the meadow above the Chief’s Grove.

Most of the photos I took with my phone as I┬ápart of the crew. My wife Denise took the two photos below from the farm field across Piersol Road. They’re both of Crew Boss Darin Groff (right) and me as the fire passed the Chief’s Grove (that’s the bench by the grove at right).

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A prescribed burn is a controlled application of fire to a meadow under appropriate weather conditions and fuel moisture. This creates the conditions to promote the growth of native warm-season grasses and wildflowers in our meadows, and more closely mimics a natural process than mowing, an alternative we use when burning is not possible.

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We achieved┬áthe desirable upright column of smoke. Today we had such great flanking fires that we really didn’t have to tie off the ignition on the perimeter. The two backing fires came closed together like scissor blades and eliminated the fuel between them. A slow mowing backing fire, though less dramatic in flame height and appearance, is actually hotter at ground level, and offers better results for our objectives of clearing woody and invasive plants.

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This is the 22nd year of Natural Lands prescribed fire program. While a few of us are still around from the early days we have many wonderful new crew members. We work really well together, each of the two crews anticipating the other’s moves with little need to communicate the obvious on the radios.

Over the next few weeks, weather permitting, we will try to burn at several other Natural Lands preserves.