Tom's Blog

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Spring 2017 burn of the oak woodland at Pleasant Valley Conservancy

Oak woodlands need fire, and at Pleasant Valley Conservancy we try to burn our major oak woodland (Units 15 and 16) at least biennially.

The big burn in November 2016 was fairly successful, but some areas did not burn well, and the County F road cut, which has a lot of good savanna forb species, did not burn at all. Yesterday, since all of the surrounding units at PVC had been burned, we had no need for fire breaks, and simply lighted from the bottom of the hill along County F. The fire easily moved up from County F into the woods, and in most areas burned through the woods until it reached some barrier. In several areas, the fire line moved all the way to the top of the hill, where it reached the North Fire Break and stopped.

This was a two-person burn (Amanda and Susan), with two drip torches and no water at all. (We had water backcans as back up, but they were not needed.) There was a strong wind out of the south, but on this north-facing hill everything was fairly quiet. The temperature was 70 F and the R.H. about 45%. There had been several sunny, windy days, so oak leaves, the principal fuel, were dry and crackly. All that was required is to light along the bottom of the County F road cut and watch the fire move.

Fire line moving through the woods from lighting at the bottom of the County F road cut.

Looking down from the top of the hill (along the North Fire Break).
In this area the fire had moved all the way from the bottom to the top of the hill in about an hour.

Zig-zag goldenrod, a woodland species, is an early starter. In this area, the fire went around the patch on the left, but burned the other two patches. Because this is a low-intensity fire (around 200 C), root buds of the burned patches will soon replace the damaged plants.

See more photos on the PVC Facebook page.


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