Spring and fall are when the smell of smoke may tickle your nose around Whiterock Conservancy. Many of us are familiar with burning parts of our garden annually which involves standing watch over the fire with a rake or a shovel for a short while. Prescribed burns for the natural lands of Iowa have some commonalities. For example, I helped my Dad bun his asparagus patch a couple weekends back – a couple of minutes with a rake and match and the show was over. But, burning a prairie or a savanna is a bigger time commitment. Both activities can be done with a rake, but water equipment makes bigger burns a whole lot easier and safer. Either way, being safety conscious and producing the ecological benefit desired determines the outcome of the burn.
Good burns are all about preparation. At Whiterock we put a lot of time into preparing burn lines to make sure that crew members and the public are safe during and after a burn. Removing excess grass and leaves from the burn line makes it not only safer but easier as well. This also means that the crew can be more confident in moving more quickly. Burning should always be a little stressful with a healthy respect for fire, but good preparation definitely helps put everyone on the crew at ease.