Tom's Blog

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Small burns in the East Basin

We are getting ready to plant the 5-acre East Basin on the weekend of Nov 14-15. Most of this unit is cleared and ready to plant, but we had two areas that needed burning. Yesterday we had successful burns of both.

The first area was the long, narrow strip shown in the above photo. This area had originally been part of the Ridge Prairie planting (seen on the right), but in the process of clearing the East Basin we had to disturb this area a lot, including creating the access road shown in the photo. Because there was little "good" vegetation left, this area was sprayed twice last summer with glyphosate. Thus, the burn was intended to get rid of the dead thatch.

The weather was very clear and sunny, with low humidity, so the burn went very well. The main concern was spot fires in the adjacent Ridge Prairie, but since the wind was out of the west, this proved not to be a problem.

The second area was a small white oak savanna at the northeast corner of the unit. Since this was an area with well established trees, we did not clear this during the restoration work. It will be planted as savanna rather than prairie. The burn here was done to get rid of all the newly fallen oak leaves so that the seeds could reach the soil surface. Since the leaf cover was not continuous (as seen, a lot of the leaves had not fallen yet), the burn was patchy and we had to light a number of separate strips. In getting ready for this burn, a leaf blower was used to blow the leaves away from the bases of the white oaks. Although this was not absolutely essential (white oak bark is fairly fire-resistant), it was a useful precaution, and fairly easy in such a small area.


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