Prescribed (Controlled) Burns Clear out Invaders and Restore Diversity
Until recent times, fire was a natural part of life for our native woodlands, wetlands, and prairies. Ecosystems native to the Midwest depend on periodic fire events to rejuvenate growth and ensure long-term survival. Modern tendencies to suppress fire allow invasive plants to out-compete native grasses and forbs, therefore reducing plant and animal diversity. Fire is one of the best management tools for continued invasive plant control.
Understanding More About Controlled Burns: it’s a science
WHY: Prescribed burning is essential in the management of prairies, glades, wetlands and open woodlands. Fire bares and blackens the ground so that sunlight can warm the soil and stimulate plant growth. It promotes many native wildflowers and thins out overzealous woody plant growth. New growth following a fire attracts and sustains a diversity of herbivorous and other animal species. And of great importance to the Kansas City’s Wild Lands – fire helps control many of the exotic invasive plants that continually threaten our remnant wild places.
WHEN: Controlled burns are conducted when adequate fire lines or breaks have been established and factors such as humidity, temperature and wind fall within an acceptable and predetermined range. Fires on WildLands sites are conducted by burn-trained Kansas City land managers and their trained volunteers from fall through very early spring. This is the prime window for stimulating forb (wildflower) growth. Spring burns – like those conducted in the Flint Hills – stimulate grass growth at the expense of forbs, so they are avoid in the management of our biologically diverse wild land sites.