Members of our stewardship team completed their annual “pack test” recently as part of fire training. This time their task was to carry a 25-pound backpack for 2 miles in less than 30 minutes.
They traveled to Newton County for the certification test. After successfully finishing, the three “stewies” stayed onsite to help The Nature Conservancy of Indiana with a prescribed burn at Kankakee Sands.
The 80-acre prairie planting had not been burned in about five years. The prescribed burn helped address some of the woody plants that were beginning to creep in.
Each time they participate in a burn, our team gains on-the-ground experience—supporting restoration projects for the Indiana DNR and The Nature Conservancy. Eventually, they will be ready to take the lead on burning CILTI’s fire-dependent properties.
As a natural process, fire has always been a key shaper of natural areas, but in modern times it is largely suppressed. So conservation professionals increasingly use controlled burns to help restore oak woodlands and prairies. Fire is an excellent tool for controlling woody volunteers and invasive plants.
For more about the use of fire as a restoration method, see this article from the National Park Service.