Tom's Blog

Friday, January 15, 2016

Tallgrass prairie: contrast between burned and unburned patches

While cataloging my digital photographs from years gone by, I ran across this nice photo that demonstrates well the difference between a burned and an unburned prairie.

This photo was taken at Black Earth Rettenmund Prairie (BE). The line between the burned and unburned areas is striking (Kathie is standing in the patch that had been burned). This photo was taken in the middle of May (2009) when wood betony was in full bloom. Also blooming are puccoon and bird's foot violet.

The burned area was the North Unit, and the unburned area was what we call the Saddle.

The photo below shows this burn in action. The Saddle is on the right and the North Unit on the left. The hose used for wetlining was brought up from a pumper unit in our Kawasacki Mule that was parked in the nearby field. 

We had twelve people on this burn with two burn lines working in opposite directions. The other burn line is over the hill to the east. Communication of the two burn units was by two-way radio. Denny Connor was the "burn boss."

The sky shows how great the weather was for this burn. The wind was out of the NW at 5-10 mph, the temperature was a cool 55-60 F, and the RH was about 35%. 

When we do burns like this we want to keep a sharp line between the burned and unburned patches. This line still remains in the photo above, and will continue to remain part of the summer, eventually fading to unnoticeable.

Incidentally, this burn crew had worked all morning burning the south slope and various prairies at Pleasant Valley Conservancy. After lunch, they moved to BE where ignition began at 1:30 PM. After the North Unit was burned, the crew burned the South Unit and the neighbor's pasture. The job at BE was completed by 3:30 PM.


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