That's the day it burns.
Fire is so important to ecosystem sustainability that "evolutionists pray for it."
Usually a burn is planned for about half of each of the three Somme restoration areas. The principle is that half is left unburned as habitat for rare animals that may be sensitive to fire.
This year was the time for the west half of Somme Prairie to burn, and that's where we'll look next year for all the rarest plants to do best - for the richest wildflower displays and most butterflies. That's where we'll see wholesale reduction of some invasives and the best advances in diversity and health.
Burns are good.
|Preparing the fire break|
|A modest fire|
|Happy crew when the burn is done. This is actually the crew that burned Black Partridge Woods.|
The burn program has many crews out across the county on every good burn day.
This photo from FP burn boss John McCabe.
|Sedge meadow - only the upper layers burned in damp areas like this.|
Here we see a shrub patch that the fire has top-killed. The invasive dogwood shrub would destroy the prairie by its shade without fires. The dogwood will re-sprout from the bottom next spring. But it has lost its edge, and frequent burns in some parts of this site have demonstrated that the high quality prairie can completely out-compete the dogwood if the burns are frequent.
Burns reveal the structure of the ecosystem - like an X-ray. Here at the edge of the sedge meadow, vole tunnels can be seen running from the tall grass into the drier dogwood thicket. Before the burn, the vole tunnels (foreground) were invisible. Only the sharp-nosed coyotes knew where they were. Now we see them everywhere.
|Upland "high quality" prairie. Some patches had too little fuel to burn. This is tallgrass prairie?|
|A firebreak - neatly raked.|
|Meadow vole trails, diggings, and tunnel entrances.|
|Wet thickets don't burn on most years.|
|Where the shrubs are biggest and densest, the fire goes out.|
|Unburned. High quality.|
|Prairie plants rejoicing after a burn|