On April 20 our Natural Areas Manager, Sarah Cech, with the help of the Shaker Heights Fire Department, conducted a controlled burn of our Demonstration Prairie.
The Demonstration Prairie is a 3,700-square-foot area along West Park Boulevard near Shaker Boulevard. This demonstration garden includes plant communities that would be found in a natural prairie and is used by the Nature Center as an outdoor classroom.

Prairie plants are healthier when burned every three to five years, and some species will only sprout when they are burned. Fire helps to control weeds and returns nutrients to the soil.
 
The Nature Center’s demonstration prairie has been in place for eight years and this was its first prescribed burn.

How to Burn a Prairie

First, have a prairie to burn:

Next, prep the equipment:

Safety First! Suit up and protect the surrounding site:

We have ignition!

Burn fire to fire to maintain control.

Somebody is having a liiiiitle too much fun:

Be ready if opportunity strikes:

This Red-tailed Hawk was drawn in by the smoke and was on the lookout for escaping mice, voles or rabbits.

Once the flames die and the smoke clears, saturate the area to ensure the fire is truly out: