This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Playing with fire

On Saturday, Feb 7, 2009 NICHES Land Trust had a work day at the Fisher Oak Savanna, which is about 12 miles south east of Rensselaer. Six people showed up, but only three of them were volunteers. The task for the day was brush pile burning.
The volunteers did not get to play with the chain saws. All we got to do was feed the fire. I am surprised no one brought some kids along. I know that my kids always loved throwing things into a big fire, and we had a big fire. It would have been quite spectacular at night, but with the bright sun it was less so.

I will be posting a few other things that I saw during the morning in later posts. I will end this one with a video that gives some idea of what the morning work was like.

Update: The reason for the cutting and burning was to open up the canopy enough to allow the oaks to regenerate themselves. Apparently that happened naturally with fire before agriculture dominated the area. In the future they will use controlled burns to keep the sassafras and mulberry trees from crowding out the young oaks.


Sarah said...

I'm a little curious- why? Burning invasives? Opening up the area to restore it to Savanna? Training? Simply an excuse to play with fire?

Gus said...

Without regular fire, oak savannas become woods as black cherry and sassafras move in. Eventually the canopy will fill in and become too dense for oaks to regenerate, as well as oak savanna understory species like lupines, lead plant and whole slew of others. So we cut the cherry and sassafras to open the canopy, and burn the brush to try and keep some of the area open in the understory. We have begun to use controlled landscape burns on the site to keep the canopy open long term.

Sarah said...

Thank you, Gus! Keep up the good work! With oak savanna such a rare habitat in Indiana, that bit of property is quite important. Looking forward to lupines...