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Friday, April 5, 2013

Burn Baby, Burn! The View Inside a Prescribed Burn

Spring in the prairies, grasslands, and fields is a time of not only flowers, but the fires that make those flowers and new prairie grasses grow and thrive. Controlled burns are used for a number of conservation reason, prairie health, removal  of invasive species, improvement of habitat.

Controlled or prescribed burning, is a technique sometimes used in forest management, agriculture, prairie restoration. Fire is a natural part of both forest and grassland ecology and controlled fires are also used as a tool in the forestry industry.

According to Wikipedia:
 Controlled burns have a long history in wildland management. Pre-agricultural societies used fire to regulate both plant and animal life. Fire history studies have documented periodic wildland fires ignited by indigenous peoples in North America and Australia. Fires, both naturally caused and prescribed, were once part of natural landscapes in many areas. Studies have shown that between the mid Holocene and the 19th century AD, wildland fires annually burned between 4.5% and 12% of present-day California's total land, for example. These practices ended in the early 20th century when US fire policies were enacted with the goals of suppressing all fires. Since 1995, the US Forest Service has slowly incorporated burning practices into its forest management policies.

I was able to join one of the crews conducting a controlled burn this week. It is truly awe inspiring to watch the flames rage, grow, and leave behind a stage set for better habitat, more prairie grass, and fewer invasive intruders.

Please note that the images were shot using a long focal length lens (considered super telephoto)  and all IL DNR safety regulations were followed. Playing with fire, especially fast moving grass and field fires is not an activity to be taken lightly without the appropriate  safety equipment and knowledge of how these types of fires work.
Illinois DNR offers a good guide to the precautions that must be taken HERE

Feel the heat, smell the smoke, and know when it all clears....the circle of life continues.

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