Year: Sophomore Class of 2018
Hometown: Springfield, Ohio
Internship: The Wilds Scholar Internship
Location: The Wilds, Cumberland Ohio
Recently the restoration ecology department at the Wilds invited myself and the other interns to learn how to safely manage a controlled burn, and they invited us to participate in a small controlled burn. So, why would we want to some of the prairie here at the Wilds?
Prairies actually benefit from fire. The fire burns up leaf litter and allows prairie plants to come back and grow taller and healthier. The fire also increases nutrients in the soil because of the ash. Controlled burns can be used to remove invasive plant species so we can replace them with native plants.
After learning the reasons to burn and safety procedures, we met again later that evening to get suited up for the burn. It is important to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the burn.
Here I am gearing up for the burn.
Here I am wearing the suit, minus the water backpack.
The burn boss (the person in control of the burn and the person in charge) needed people to wear water packs and make sure the fire did not spread out of control. That's where I came in! I wore a giant bag filled with water on my back and it had a nozzle and hose connected so I could spray the water at the fire. This bag was SO heavy. Everyone's shoulders were sore the next day from the water!
The fire was a great success. The weather was very ideal (not too humid or too windy) and we had plenty of people to make sure the fire was under control. With animals nearby, too much smoke was a big concern but there was hardly any smoke.
This is a good picture of the burn. The flames were not too big and very easy to control.
Here I am, carefully adding more fire to the burn. I was nervous to hold to torch at first, because fire is literally shooting out of it, but after a minute it was very easy to use and shoot fire toward the prairie.
I'm looking forward to the next opportunity to assist with a controlled burn. It is fun but also beneficial to the earth at the same time.