The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Fields Burned to Maintain Grassland Habitat

Posted by | April 29, 2013

Protected Lands sign with prescribed burn in backgroundPeriodic controlled burns are an excellent tool for strengthening grassland habitat. Once upon a time wild fires occurred regularly, but today it's not sensible to let fires rage across the landscape. Without an occasional burn, though, New England grasslands gradually succeed to shrublands and then to forests.

Here at the reserve, we specifically manage certain areas as grasslands. We need to mimic nature's normal process by prescribing burns to maintain their openness and health. It had been 4 years since our last burn.

By burning fields, not only do we keep shrubs at bay but we also encourage fire-adapted plants to gain ground. Native bunch grasses and certain wildflowers have been almost entirely replaced by non-native species, but in burned areas they have a chance to become re-established.

Conditions need to be just right for fire technicians to do their work safely. Last Thursday, April 25, those conditions were met. In a matter of hours, the contract crew from Rachel Carson NWR accomplished a safe and effective burn. Here are some shots of the Lord field "in progress."

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And here's a short video:

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