Friday, September 10, 2010

Stripping the light fantastic

The perfect combination of wet weather followed by drying periods allowed for growing season fires on glades recently. Verging on wildfire conditions, August was a bust for burning off glades in much of the Ozarks, but the rains associated with the recent Gulf hurricanes came in just in time.

Growing season burns on glades after a 2 inch rain event do not result in a slicked off, clean, blackened landscape, but one with a patchy mosaic of burned and unburned vegetation.

With warm and sunny days on the horizon, the little singed tufts of little bluestem will likely sprout anew, and a handful of early spring wildflowers may return on the scene in these areas. The diversity of a fire regime--varying the season, intensity and frequency of fire implementation--remains one of the most important facets of emulating natural disturbance factors necessary to restore healthy, viable ecosystems.

Knowing that a little fire on a healthy landscape in early September will have positive implications for next spring's bloom cycles, that mimicking the very natural processes that gave rise to the heterogeneous mix of native vegetation will positively impact the entire system (however fragmented it is now) is a very good thing.

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