Natural Lands Trust has begun its spring Prescribed Burn programs at various preserves. We don't use fire to mange habitats at Mariton. Someday I would like to use fire in different sections of Mariton's forests and research how it affects oak regeneration. Oaks are important food sources for wildlife, and fire seems to be an important tool in keeping oaks healthy in our forests.
Natural Lands Trust is about the only regional lands trust that has its own Prescribed Fire Team. Members of the Lands Stewardship staff receive annual training in order to be able to manage our properties with this tool. Yesterday, we burned two meadows on a preserve in Montgomery County. The purpose of the burn was to promote certain wildflowers that respond well to the burning regime. On the right is a photo of one unit after the fire is completed. I will try to post a photo of the same meadow in May, after things have greened up.
DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME - The conditions that make it possible for us to professionally manage environments with controlled fire, also make it dangerous for wild (un-controlled) fires. Again, we are trained to respond to various fire behaviors, and operate within a prescription that is based on weather conditions, as well as the conditions of the materials we are burning.
Today, we planned to burn three small units at one of our preserves in Chester County. However, the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning due to low humidity and windy conditions. We would never burn in these types of conditions. But, I am sure some landowners will burn today, and their routine brush or leaf fire will become a wild fire that will endanger land, animals and people needlessly.
Before each fire, the team holds a briefing to go over weather, hazards and predicted fire behavior. We discuss plans of action "just in case" the unexpected happens. Following the fire, we go over what went right, what went wrong, and what we will do differently next time. I am proud to be part of such a cohesive team. Members react instinctively to the various situations that arise during a fire. That is a reflection of our training, as well as our experience.