The snow is melting here in Iowa and it’s beginning to feel a lot like spring has sprung. For the burn crew here in the Natural Resources Department at Impact7G, that means it is the most wonderful time of the year – prescribed fire season!
Tallgrass prairies historically covered over 80% of Iowa but have now dwindled to less than 0.1% of today’s land coverage. Fire was once an important piece of the puzzle in the prairie, savannah, and oak–hickory woodland ecology of the pre-settlement Iowa landscape. Many of Iowa’s native species relied upon the power of fire to carve out ecological niches and maintain the once vast tallgrass prairie of the Midwest. A prairie left to its own devices, absent of fire or grazing, will eventually start to fill with adventive woody shrubs. Those shrubs in turn will create conditions to harbor saplings of trees which eventually mature into thick canopied forests that outcompete and eliminate the prairie species.
As part of the burn crew, we have an up-close perspective with all the benefits that a prescribed fire provides, including: nutrient release, invasive species management, increased native seed germination, increased plant and animal species diversity, shrub and sapling reduction, and site preparation for harvesting, planting, or seeding. Prescribed fire is a fantastic restoration tool to have for a multitude of projects ranging from 100 square foot rain gardens to 100-acre prairies. Impact7G has developed a prescribed fire program which provides landowners, municipalities, and restoration enthusiasts with the means to accomplish their natural areas management objectives. Please contact the fire program staff at Impact7G this spring to see if fire management is the right fit to meet your woodland or prairie restoration goals.