Prairie Ridge Ecostation

Prescribed Fire

On a beautiful morning in early spring, staff from Prairie Ridge and the North Carolina Division of Forest Resources met to burn the Prairie. Fire lines, strips tilled clear of vegetation, had been previously created around the perimeter of the burn. The weather conditions were checked and rechecked to make sure that the conditions were favorable for a controlled blaze.

Fire is spread using a drip torch        The fire lines are patrolled to prevent the fire from escaping        The iron bison sculptures are fire proof

Prairie Ridge staff used drip torches to light and spread the fire from the outer edges toward the center while the Forest Rangers kept watch to ensure safe conditions. Within an hour almost 10-acres had been burned and was ready for the following year's growing season. The burned area turned from black to green within a few days as the sprouting grasses erased most visual evidence of the recent fire.

The dead stalks of last year's grass are consumed in the burn         The fire leaves the ground black with ash         Smoke from the burn rises and dissipates

Prairie grasses and forbs are adapted to periodic fires and would be out-competed by trees without periodic burns. Historically, lightning and Native Americans burned large areas of the Piedmont of North Carolina creating savannahs and grasslands. Prairie Ridge replicates this little-known habitat by providing a Piedmont prairie reconstruction that is open to exploration by walking the Prairie Trail.

Find out more about the natural happenings at Prairie Ridge at our What Time Is It In Nature Archive.