Tom's Blog

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New fire break for savanna burns

Yesterday we made a new fire break for use in our savanna burns. This break will also provide improved access for management purposes. Incidentally, it will also provide a new walking trail through a nice savanna area.

The location of the new fire break is shown in purple on the map. This divides the rather large Unit 11 and should make it easier to burn this important savanna area. The part of this unit labeled 11A is very open savanna with conservative remnant species (lead plant, New Jersey tea, prairie grasses) whereas the part labeled 11B is more wooded, with open-grown bur and white oaks as well as shagbark hickories. Both of these areas were once choked with buckthorn, which was removed about 10 years ago. Consistent herbicide  use and annual burns have turned this area into a fine restored savanna. The new trail passes just uphill of an attractive grove of large open-grown bur oaks.

New fire break is shown in purple on the map
Here is how we created this fire break. I walked the whole route starting from the Saddle road, marking the line with flagging tape. The next day, Amanda and Susan followed this line and cleared out all downed timber. This was mostly handwork, although a chain saw was needed for one large log. They also marked any tree stumps or rocks. Kathie followed behind with the Kubota mower and I followed Kathie with the Kawasaki Mule. The whole job took less than two hours.
Mowing the new fire break.
The Kubota tractor is ideal for this sort of work. It can cut tall forbs and small brush with ease, and can fling all the cut debris well outside of the break. As the photo shows, the topography is fairly level, with very little side slope. (In the distance, just outside the trees, is the terminus of the new break at Toby's Prairie.)

This new trail is already starting to serve its management purpose. A fairly large sumac clone and some small honeysuckles were discovered which had not been visible from previous trails.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home