Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

    Arb Notes

    <u might have noticed smoke coming from the lower arb, or the huge black expanse of hillside where just a week ago there was grass. A few days ago, a friend came back from a run and asked me, “why did you guys kill the prairie?”

    It’s prescribed burn season, and it might seem like the management plan is death and destruction. But burning is actually a carefully developed approach to prairie restoration that mimics ancient patterns of fire that kept the prairies healthy and extant. In the Midwest, miles of continuous prairie evolved with lightening-fires as well as Native Americans who burned regularly to drive game, maintain pasture, make travel easier and encourage the growth of certain plants.

    It’s hard for me to remember that some land has evolved with people, and that “restoration” and “conservation” aren’t practices exclusively geared towards pristine wilderness areas. The grasses and wildflowers that populate our prairie owe their existence to a regular cycle of fire and to native tribes’ self-interest. Now our prairie restoration program mimics their prairie-perpetuation plan.

    You can already see new grasses sprouting up in the most recent burn areas. Burning helps weed out invasive species, gets rid of winter debris that blocks sunlight and crowds precious space, returns nutrients to the soil and ultimately helps increase plant diversity. Next time you’re out on a walk or run, keep your eye out for Red Tailed or Coopers Hawks hanging out near the most recent burns—it’s a lot easier to catch a meadow vole if it’s not obscured by prairie grass, but that perk won’t last long!

    -Callie Millington for the Arb Naturalists

    Leave a Comment
    More to Discover

    Comments (0)

    All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *