Sunday, April 24, 2011

You Set Fires In The Forest Preserve?

Hi, everyone who keeps up with this blog, you might remember about a week or so back Dennis and I had to call the fire department because of a prairie burn that had somehow not gone out, and it caught in the needles of mature white pines north of the park. It was taken care of, of course. But I had promised to post some pictures and an explanation about the prairie burns, and thanks to our superintendant of DeKalb County Forest Preserve, Terry Hannan, I have pictures and the whole story.

DeKalb County Forest Preserve staff has designated forest, prairie and wetland management areas in all forest preserves. Altogether about 300 acres are managed with controlled burns. Our prairie landscape and soils were shaped by fire and fire helps preserve DeKalb County’s natural resource areas. Fire is the most efficient and economical tool available for managing natural plant communities.

Without fire, non-native plants can gain a foothold and force out native plants. Fire recycles nutrients back into the soil and makes a favorable place for the native Illinois grasses and flowers to flourish. Big bluestem, blazing star, pale purple coneflower, shooting star,sedges, prairie cord grass and hundreds of other forest, prairie and wetland plants keep their buds safely beneath the soil surface protected from fire.

Animals too are adaptive to fire, temporarily leaving areas, flying away or entering their underground burrows. Some areas are burned and other nearby areas left unburned for wildlife to move to. Spring burning ends early before birds begin nesting. E.P.A. permits are obtained and County Sheriff’s office notified, as well as neighbors close to controlled burn sites. Safety and planning before and during burns is key to successful burn management; safety preparations, firebreak establishment, humidity, wind direction and speed, smoke management, burn crew communication, plant community knowledge and burn cycles are all considered before beginning a burn.

Burns begin in March, end in April.

The picture to the right is of the wetlands that is due south of our house, you can see the barn in the background, and our house sits right behind it.


  1. Thank you for sharing that it was really interesting. Loved the pictures too!

  2. You are quite welcome, and glad to do so,Heather.


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