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Fire is one of the tools for managing a prairie and keeping it healthy.  I had the privilege of helping one of my friends burn her prairie yard this week.  She’s been burning prairies for over 45 years and this was the 29th year she had burned her yard.  Fire helps to get rid of dead plant matter, controls weeds and adds nutrients to the soil.  Sun is able to reach the germinating plants and they will grow rapidly in the warmed soil.

Fire 9 © 2015 Karen A. Johnson

Fire 9
© 2015 Karen A. Johnson

She had to apply for several different permits, make fire breaks around her house and trees, and make sure that conditions were right before she could start the burn.  Several people are needed to watch and make sure that safety is maintained.  I was amazed at how fast the fire could spread once the wind took hold.

I will admit that I’ve always been fascinated by fire and enjoy watching campfires.  They are usually in small, controlled areas, however, so having indistinct boundaries with wind did make me a bit nervous.  My friend is trained though, so I enjoyed the opportunity to get some interesting photographs-and yes, it got hot!

There was still a lot of moisture underneath the dry stalks, so smoke was everywhere.  It gave a rather eery feeling until the wind blew it away.

Fire 2 © 2015 Karen A. Johnson

Fire 2
© 2015 Karen A. Johnson

Fire and smoke © 2015 Karen A. Johnson

Fire and smoke
© 2015 Karen A. Johnson

Her yard is now ready for spring and all the new growth that will emerge.  Enjoy!