Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Audubon Prairies Go Up in Flames

Lighting the fire on the south perimeter

It was a perfect day for a fire.  Wind speed was low and rain was in the forecast.

Fish & Wildlife Service fire crews from Rydell and Agassiz National Wildlife Refuges arrived at the Audubon Center around 10:30am on April 17th.  They unloaded and checked their fire vehicles and gear, then gathered around crew leader Darrin Franco as he reviewed the detailed burn plan and safety precautions.

When the briefing was over, the 10 members of the burn crew headed to the prairie on the southwest side of the Audubon Center.  They put up the road barriers, reviewed the plan a second time and checked their radios.   The wind speed kicked up a little, but by 11:30 they were ready to light the perimeter fires. 

Smoke and Flames
Burn Crew Chief Darrin Franco

Four hours later, what would be a “text book perfect” prescribed burn was over. 
Hosing the grasses
Looking north - a goose-eye's view   photo © Chris Anderson

Lots of smoke.  Lots of flames.   Nobody hurt.  Not even a wood fence post was damaged.  Over a hundred acres of grassland were left blackened and smoldering - ready to be soaked by the rain that would come overnight.

The Agassiz Audubon Society prescribed burn was funded by the federal Fish & Wildlife Partners program - which is designed to help private landowners maintain healthy habitat for birds and other wildlife.