Controlled burn to assist habitat restoration at Fishers’ Krauss Nature Preserve

The Central Indiana Land Trust (CILTI) will conduct a controlled burn on approximately 28 acres of the Nonie Werbe Krauss Nature Preserve on Dec. 6, weather permitting. The preserve is located at the southwest corner of 116th Street and Eller Road in Fishers.

Controlled burning is used for resource management in natural areas to help restore habitats, control invasive species and benefit wildlife.

“We want to give residents plenty of notice so no one is alarmed by the burn,” said CILTI Executive Director Cliff Chapman. “We also want to use this as an opportunity to explain that burns are a standard practice in the proper management of natural areas.”

“Fire is nature’s way of managing prairies and forests,” continued Chapman. “Because we have so few uncontrolled burns, it’s necessary to plan controlled burns to ensure that the ecosystems in our prairies and oak woodlands stay healthy. Fire helps to eliminate invasive species and allow native plants to prosper.”

The Land Trust has contracted with Davey Resource Group, a division of Davey Tree Expert Company, to conduct the burn. Davey’s trained staff will be uniformed and all vehicles and equipment marked. Prior to the burn, professionals have conducted site preparation that included buffering areas surrounding the burn.

The burn plan has been approved by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), and CILTI sent letters to nearby businesses and residents last month to notify them the burn would happen.

Previously known as the Wapahani Nature Preserve, the 77-acre preserve was renamed in 2015. The preserve features a restored prairie and bottomland forest along the White River. The prairie is being managed to become a burr oak savanna over the coming decades. Over 19,000 trees were planted in the bottomland forest. Common species found include a variety of prairie grasses, prairie dock, milkweed, monarch butterflies, Baltimore oriole, belted kingfisher, grasshopper sparrow and American mink. Parking is available behind Riverside Middle School (10910 Eller Road, Fishers) after 4 p.m. on weekdays and anytime on weekends.

About the Central Indiana Land Trust Inc. (CILTI)

The Central Indiana Land Trust works with landowners to protect and enhance natural areas to ensure there are natural places all Hoosiers can enjoy now and in future generations.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jen Schmits Thomas, 317-441-2487, jen@jtprinc.com

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Controlled burn FAQs

 Why are controlled burns necessary?

Fire is a natural process for Indiana natural areas. Because we have so few uncontrolled burns, it’s necessary to plan controlled burns to ensure that the ecosystems in our prairies and oak woodlands stay healthy. Fire is actually nature’s way of managing a forest. Fire helps to eliminate invasive species and allow stronger plants to prosper.

What happens during a controlled burn?

Most of the time spent for a controlled burn is before the burn day. A written plan outlines where the burn will occur on the property, how it will be conducted and under what weather conditions. The plan must be approved by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. The area is prepared by establishing buffer areas, which involve clearing downed wood, moving and clearing leaf litter.

After ignition takes place using a drip torch, the fire is allowed to back burn. The fire along the fire break is then put out. As we progress, we continually monitor our line and the two crew bosses are in communication, keeping each other apprised of the progress each crew is making. Once the backburn and flanks of the unit are blackened, the two crews will light a head fire, moved along by the wind. The head fire moves across the unit quickly. After the head fire is lit, we continue to monitor the unit, particularly the downwind side for embers in the air. Once the fire is complete, there is an after-action review of the fire. Some of the crew will go out again to make sure the fire unit is secure.

Who conducts the actual burn?

CILTI personnel are involved in the planning, but the actual burn is done by professionals who are trained in conducting burns. In this case, CILTI has contracted with Davey Resource Group, a division of Davey Tree Expert Company, to conduct the burn. Davey’s trained staff will be uniformed and all vehicles and equipment marked.

 How long does a burn usually take?

It depends on size, weather and habitat. It could take less than an hour or several hours.

How long will the burn at the Krauss preserve take?

It will depend on weather and how wet the area is, but most likely will be less than one hour.

 What happens after the burn?

The burn crew inspects for anything in the area that is retaining heat and douses it with water. The crew doesn’t leave until the area is completely out with no embers burning.

Will the area be open after the burn?

Yes.

 

Jen Schmits Thomas

Media Relations

An award-winning communicator and recognized leader in Central Indiana’s public relations community, Jen helps us tell our story in the media. She is the founder of JTPR, which she and her husband John Thomas own together.