Fire is essential to maintain the health of prairies, woodlands and wetlands in America. Historically in the midwest most fires were ignited by Native Americans, with some occasionally lit by lightning. Fire not only invigorates native plants which have been happily co-existing with fire for thousands of years, but it also damages or kills many weeds and invasive species.
Prairie fires burn dead plant material, grasses, wildfires and small shrubs. Prairie burns are briefly intense, with flames reaching more than 10' high at times. But just two inches below ground the temperature hardly varies at all. Shrubs and many invasive weeds will be weakened or killed by the fire. The native prairie plants will resprout from their deep roots, invigorated by the heat of the sunlight on the blackened soil and the nutrients recycled in the ashes.
In woodlands, the leaf litter acts as the primary fuel of the fire with flames typically just a foot or two high. Oak trees are adapted to fire with thick bark on mature trees. Young trees will resprout vigorously from the root stock. Weedy trees and brush are less fire resistant and will be suppressed by regular burning, leaving canopy openings and growing space for native plants. The heat of the fire will also weaken or kill invasive weeds like garlic mustard. With more light reaching the ground in the woodland, oak seedlings, wildflower and grasses can again sprout and prosper.
Fire over Water
Historically even wetlands burned in times of dry weather or when high winds carried flames over the wet ground and water surface. Today, prescribed fires in wetlands are an important tool for controlling weeds like narrow-leaved cattails, phragmities and willows. These fires can be fast moving and intense, so careful planning and execution is a must.
Many small natural areas within urbana and suburban areas can benefit as much from prescribed fire as their larger rural counterparts. At Good Oak we specialized in small burns in tight spaces. We take to plan for and mitigate the potential hazards of the fire and the resulting smoke and know how to work with our local fire departments on obtaining the proper permitting.
Efficiency, Safety and Experience
Prescribed fire is a cost effective method of managing natural areas. The work that is done by fire in a single controlled burn would cost considerably more if done by mechanical or chemical treatment methods. With careful planning and expert execution, prescribed burns are safe and even fun. We always take extreme care to ensure safety and effectiveness of our burns. Good Oak's prescribed burn crew has over 50 years of combined experienced and advanced wildland fire training through the National Wildland Fire Coordinating Group. We have the experience and equipment to conduct a controlled burn on your property safely and efficiently.