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Armand Bayou Prescribed Prairie Burn

posted Feb 12, 2016, 8:37 PM by Mary Waters   [ updated Feb 12, 2016, 8:44 PM ]

"The uniformly rich soil of the Illinois and Wisconsin prairies produced so close and tall a growth of grasses that no tree could live on it. Had there been no fires, these fine prairies, so marked a feature of the country, would have been covered by the heaviest forest."

- from Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There

Today, prescribed burns are a crucial component in prairie management and restoration.  The National Park Service says, “the benefits of fire are enormous. The tied-up nutrients that take months or years to decay are within seconds turned to ash and in a form usable to plants. Sunlight warms the blackened ground and stimulates dormant plants to sprout and grow. Trees and shrubs with the stems and branches exposed to the intense heat are killed, allowing the ground under them to receive full sunlight once again.”

On Thursday, February 11, Armand Bayou conducted the first burn of their 2016 season.  Staffed by burn team volunteers that included, among others, Gulf Coast and Galveston Chapter Master Naturalists and managed by Armand Bayou Stewardship Coordinator Mark Kramer and Stewardship Biologist Zach Roper, one section of prairie was successfully cleared of five years of growth.

The carefully managed burn went off like clockwork.  In a couple of weeks the area will be covered with new growth and the cycle will begin again.

Being part of the burn team is an great experience!


  

Watch an Armand Bayou controlled burn here.



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