Until recent times, fire was a natural part of life for our native woodlands, wetlands, and prairies. Ecosystems native to the Midwest depend upon periodic fire events to rejuvenate growth and ensure long-term survival. Modern tendencies to suppress fire allow invasive plants (weeds) to out-compete our native grasses and forbs, therefore reducing plant and animal diversity. Fire is one of the best management tools for continued invasive plant control. For over a decade, our trained ecologists have been applying prescribed fire in the Chicago region and beyond. After inspecting the site and acquiring state and local permits, we prepare and implement a detailed, fiscally responsive burn plan. We safely execute burns on any scale, from backyards of a half-acre to prairies hundreds of acres in size.
Tallgrass Restoration is fully bonded and insured as well as employs individuals certified in controlled prescription fire. Experience the benefits of a prescribed burn with our professionals today.
Understanding Controlled Burning: it's a science
WHY: Prescription burning is implemented for a variety of reasons. One of the most notable controlled burning benefits is to maintain the health of an existing natural area containing native plants. The fire helps manage some weeds and woody growth thus reducing wildfire hazards, but it also restores nutrients to the soil and promotes new desirable plant growth. Woodlands, wetlands and prairies are perfect natural communites for controlled burns.
WHEN: Spring and fall are the two primary seasons for burning, however burns can occur at any time from mid October through mid April. The spring burn season, usually the longest of the two, typically begins in early to mid March and runs through mid April. Prairies can be burnt well into AprilI, but its preferable to finish woodlands and wetlands by April 1st.
Fall burns are typically conducted about two weeks following the first killing frost, usually around November 1st. The season lasts only until the first snow fall in early December. However, depending on the management goals of a particular burn, and if conditions are appropriate, they can take place well into the winter.
Appropriate conditions include atmospheric conditions and time, which limits the scheduling of a burn to no more than one day in advance. Conditions that are checked to determine optimal burn weather include: Temperature of 28-70 degrees Fahrenheit, Humidy at 30-65%, Chance of precipitation of 20% or less, Wind Speed of 5-20mph and Wind Direction specific to the burn site. Additionally the Air Quality Index, Haines Index, Mixing Height, Ventilation Rate, Transport Winds and Direction, and Site Fuel Composition are also considered.
WHO: Tallgrass Restoration employs credentialed professionals to perform controlled burns. All of our burns are led by Prescribed Burn Managers, with burn teams comprised of individuals with no less than Basic Wildfire Management certification from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group or Chicago Wilderness.
BEFORE the BURN: Permitting, planning and notifications must be completed prior to conducting a prescription burn. Tallgrass obtains state and local burn permits for its clients, which can take 90-120 days to complete. During this time a Prescription Burn Plan is wirtten and provided to the client for approval. All burn plans are written in accordance with state Burning Acts. Additionally, potentially affected neighbors within a reasonable distance of the burn are notified of our intent to burn. This is typically done through the hand distribution of flyers to each resident.
AFTER the BURN: It can be expected that much of the burn unit should be blackened from the fire, possibly down to the bare soil. Our goal for most burns is to blacken at least 70% of the targeted area. In most cases, not all of the vegetation or leaf litter will be consumed or knocked down by the fire. This is perfectly normal and is beneficial for protecting insects, such as butterfly eggs, that cannot escape the fire. Under typical burn contracts we do not mow down the remaining standing debris unless specifically requested otherwise.