Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring burn

Driving home from the pharmacy I came across a controlled burn.

This is not common practice across the country but around here it's a sign of spring. We intentionally burn open fields, prairies and woodland undergrowth.

The burn destroys old grasses that would hold back new growth and the heat actually breaks open seeds. Crew members walk along and start the edge of the dried grass on fire.


The fire burns quickly but not long enough or with enough heat to start the trees on fire.


Other crew members follow behind to keep an eye on the situation.


It dies out quickly and looks like this:


Don't worry. If I come back to this location in a couple of weeks there will be bright green shoots popping up.

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Some of the burns can be very dramatic and dangerous looking. Here's a community burn from a couple of years ago. The residents of a subdivision did a burn of a prairie adjacent to their properties.

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Residents walk the perimeter with wet brooms to keep down the stray sparks. It soon burns itself out. It's safer to do this than to risk the entire area burning uncontrolled in super dry situations or lightning strikes.

Do you burn in your neck of the woods?
It's looks really dangerous but


Heidi said...

Some do - but we have SO much woods around us that there is little place burn like that. It makes the grass greener and promotes good weed control.

chocolatechic said...

When we lived in the country we did, but now that I live in Pothole...nope.

I think that is the problem with the California one does controlled burns then when a spark actually does cause a fire, then it just gets way out of control.

Anonymous said...

No burning here unless it's from lightning or someone stupid enough to throw a cigarette out their car window.....

The Blue Ridge Gal

Texas Gardener said...

We are too dry for burns. Last year a guy threw a cig butt from a car on the highway behind us and almost burned down the housing addition. It was interesting to get a call from the fire dept. telling us to turn on the sprinkler system.

The fire dept. now has a telephone system in place for emergencies. We got a call during a storm last month, possible tornado. We have hot wild weather here.

Trish said...

Oh my....interesting. Nope...can't say that I know of any controlled burns quite like that but it is very interesting. amaze me how, like a journalist, you stay 'put' for the whole story. Your posts are most interesting ...thanks

Lucy said...

That takes me back. In an HOA they frown on that. Poor sports! By looking at those pictures, I can remember how wonderful it smelled. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm......... I love it.

Vee said...

We used to be able to do this, but not any longer without the fire department being involved. My father always burned the fields around my childhood home and I well remember standing along the line with my broom...don't recall if it was wet or not. Today it is all lawn so really no need to burn.

I think a controlled burn protects the forest and I'd like to see more of it done. Plus, wild blueberry patches do so well after a burn.

Jenni said...

We do controlled burns here in Kansas. Last April I posted photos I took of the pasture across the street being burned. I hope I get a chance to take burn photos this year. There is even a Prairie Fire Festival in Cottonwood Falls which is further into the Flint Hills. This year it is from April 6-11. Maybe I'll be able to go.

Dh has the same opinion as Chocolate Chic about the fires in California.

BittersweetPunkin said...

We are surrounded by woods...there is so much rain here..the ground is always wet so I think the fire would put itself out...LOL

Mom Taxi Julie said...

Burning is really frowned on here. We live in a valley with very bad air quality.

Meadowlark said...

We have field burns and then the forest does controlled burns - - my 'baby' is a wildland firefighter and then he starts them (legally) as well! :)

They can look scary in the summer and the field burns are just annoying, even though necessary.

lifeinredshoes said...

I can still see my Grandma out burning the ditches near her home, IN A DRESS! She didn't wear pants until she was much older, not ladylike. She is still, 1 tough cookie.


We do spring burn... We can't start till the snow melts tho!

the pink tractor said...

We do "prescribed" burns in this part (west) of Texas. NOT without much controversy though. My son is a certified burn specialist and a graduate of Texas A&M with degree in rangeland management, where that was his speciality. It is done here for the same reasons you mentioned -- good grazing is revealed, the land responds and produces better and much better to have it controlled rather than in wildfire fashion from the cigarette butt out the window or the lightning strike.

Oz Girl said...

We sure do here in Kansas... in late summer the farmers burn off the wheat fields after harvest, and right now, it is common to burn pastureland. Matter of fact, hubby burned our pastures this past w/e while I was visiting mom in AZ. He's done this many times before w/o incident, BUT this time was a wee bit different... check out my post if you have a minute,

TheCrankyProfessor said...

Very interesting photos!!

Louise said...

We live near some mountains. And there is a river valley, too. But basically it's the desert, so very dry. They do "controlled" burns here, but often that is how the big fires get started. I am all for controlled burns--I think they are necessary, but it seems that the controllers here need a little more education or experience. The valley usually gets at least one big fire a year from Native American ceremonial burns gone awry as well.