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Woodlot prep for prescribed burns

pile of sticks burning in field

By Taylor Karjala, Three Rivers Wildlife Field Crew Member / AmeriCorps Member

As the month of April approaches, the window for preparation is slowly closing for prescribed burn season. Before explaining my crews work that has been done, I think a brief explanation of what a prescribed burn is would be beneficial.

panorama of prairie
Murphy prairie land that is being burned this season.

Prescribed burns are necessary for reducing leaf litter on woodlots for prevention of wildfires, minimizing the spread of invasive plant species such as Common Buckthorn, and improvement of prairie lands.

Working with the Three Rivers Park District, my crew and I have already learned a great amount of information. When we first began, we started burning wood piles while snow was still on the ground to remove any possible hazards which could lead to a more serious burn than intended during burn season. Further, there have been efforts to remove any hazard trees from woodlots which are on the docket to burn. Hazard trees consist of any tree that would seem close to the ground which could catch flame, or appears dead.

dead tree
A hazard tree which would have to be raked around.

Other methods consist of removing any dead tree limbs or large sticks on the ground away from any living trees and combining them into piles away from any trees that should be protected.

The work that has been done so far may seem tedious, but overall is going to significantly reduce the chances of the prescribed burn turning into a wildfire.

It has been rewarding to participate in this process knowing that this will directly impact the prescribed burn and the course of action that it takes. My crew and I are excited to start the prescribed burn season and apply what we have been learning into application!

pile of sticks burning in field
A cedar pile being burned at Lake Rebecca.