Prescribed Burn Program
Doane University and the Aldrich Prairie Research Station (APRS) are located in the Tallgrass Prairie portion of the Great Plains. Currently, we are restoring 11 acres to Tallgrass Prairie at the APRS. The restoration began in the spring of 2005 and has another 3-5 years of restoration work before it is substantially restored. As part of our restoration efforts and long-term management we conduct annual spring burns.
My burning experience:
I have been conducting prescribed burns for 16 years now and have done the bulk of my fire fighting at the Konza Prairie Biological Station (KPBS) operated by Kansas State University. As the KPBS is divided into watershed burn units, we burn an estimated 100 miles of fire lines every year. This makes the Konza crews some of the most experienced in Great Plains.
Our student burn crews:
Like Konza’s burn crews, our crews are composed of student volunteers. If you join the Doane fire crew, you will learn the basics of prescribed burning in the classroom and gain hands-on experience in the field. In fact, the students plan and implement the burn program at the APRS. For many of our students, the experience of planning and implementing a prescribed burn will be useful in later field biology jobs. For the rest of us, it is jut fun!
As fuel loads are minimal on our restoration plots, we currently need only basic firefighting equipment.
Select students and I will start volunteering as part of the Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center prescribed burn program. Spring Creek’s burns have substantially more fuel and reflect a more typical burn experience.
Do you want to participate on the burn crews? Then you need to know what to wear and bring.
Doane students at the Konza burn school:
Every year we take a group of students down to the Konza burn school. As the burn school’s date is necessarily set months in advance (that is, without regard to prevailing weather conditions), we rarely get to burn on the day of the class. This last year was no exception. However, students did get their hands on some of the equipment and were able to see the pros and cons of each pumping system. The pumping system our students may end up working with will certainly vary from site to site (we currently use Indian pumps and flappers at the APRS). But, it is nice to see what a top-end system looks like.
Another benefit of the Konza Burn School is the trip to Konza itself. Konza has about 300 head of Bison. This one is taking a good look through the Van’s windshield.