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Prescribed Burns

During Spring 1999, there were some great opportunities to watch controlled burns in action in Ann Arbor. John Russell—with the help of his students at Pioneer High School, and with oversight from the Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation (NAP) Division—burned the Pioneer Prairie on a beautiful Friday morning in April. John varied between front and back burns to show the differences (and to get things cooking when the back burn got a bit sluggish). If you get a chance next year, it’s a good burn to observe. Just hang around John and you’ll pick up all kinds of details about burns and about the land you’re standing on.

Two burns occurred during the April 1999 Ann Arbor Wild Ones meeting, both within walking distance of each other. The Cobblestone Farm prairie, along the entry drive, and the Buhr Park Children’s Wet Meadow were burned; the latter had a commendable fire, considering it’s a relatively young native meadow. Dave Borneman, director of NAP in Ann Arbor, was in charge of both burns, along with his crack crew. Immediately before the Wet Meadow burn, the Super Swampers—the amalgam of kids who’ve worked so hard to make the Wet Meadow a reality—gave a short presentation about the meadow and their experiences in building it. It’s been a worthy uphill challenge, and if all goes well in the future, it will go further uphill.

Burns are fun. Check one out.

Prescribed burn at Cobblestone Farm
Dave Borneman of NAP discussing the preparation and training that’s required to conduct a safe and successful controlled burn.
The Wet Meadow Super Swampers during their pre-burn presentation, along with their director Jeannine Palms and Dave Borneman. Wet Meadow "Super Swampers"

Tools of the Burn Trade

Backpack water container
Backpack water container and sprayer for controlling the fire.
Rakes for spreading the fire to burn areas and for removing fuel (i.e., dead vegetation) from areas that should not be burned.
Wet Meadow burn
Equipment in use at the prescribed burn of the Buhr Park Children’s Wet Meadow.

Article reprinted from the Summer 1999 issue of the Ann Arbor Wild Ones Newsletter
(modified slightly for use on this web site).
Copyright © 1999 Wild Ones–Natural Landscapers, Ltd.


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