It is important to not only protect our natural lands, but to actively steward the land. We live in an age with disproportionally large human impacts on our ecosystems from our highly mobile culture and overconsumption. We must work to minimize the negative effects of fire suppression, invasive species spread, habitat loss, and habitat fragmentation. We can fight these negative impacts by reintroducing prescribed fires, killing invasive species in a strategic manner, and rebuilding connected ecosystems by replanting native species.
Why We Burn
Historically, fire has been a natural part of our ecosystems since the glaciers moved through our landscape.
Native Americans intentionally used fire to stimulate growth of prairie grasses to attract bison and they burned woodlands to make hunting game easier. Fire could also be without human involvement through lightning strikes or any stray spark.
Many of our native plants and animals are adapted to fire, not only to survive but thrive.
Fire was suppressed for the past century, altering the species composition and causing our woodlands to be overgrown with shrubs and juvenile trees that shade out most of our other flowering plants.
Prescribed fire creates variation in the landscape that lets different plants and animals thrive in the areas they like best.
Our prairies, woodlands, and wetlands can flourish when prescribed fire is reintroduced.
We collect seeds throughout the spring, summer, and late into the fall.
Typical prairie restoration plantings have around 60 different species of seed, but our goals are for more than 120 species.
The stewardship committee collects seeds for woodlands, wetlands, and prairie.
We collect seeds using scissors, buckets, and most importantly, volunteers.
Our seed is mostly collected locally to help ensure we spread local varieties.
Once dried the seed goes through a hammer mill in order to free the seed from plant material.
Plantings typically take place in late November or early December, before the first snowfall.
Different ecosystems have different species requirements to be successful.
Invasive Species Removal
Using spades, herbicide, chainsaws, fire, and other tools we can rid our natural areas of harmful species such as buckthorn, sweet clover, and Japanese honeysuckle.
Typically, we will remove invasive trees and shrubs once the ground is frozen to decrease the chance of killing native species.
In early spring we break out the backpack sprayers and kill damaging herbaceous species with selective herbicides. We spray only what we need to spray, minimizing target damage and reducing the amount of herbicide we need to use while quickly and effectively killing the destructive invasives.