by Bill Mees, Nature Areas Committee

When last we spoke (December 1st CHAT), we were waiting for the final step before the CANS prescribed burn, waiting for the weather conditions to coincide with the carefully designed “Burn Plan.”
John Timmermann’s call came late afternoon December 13th: “Tomorrow is looking good for a burn.”
The following morning, Bill Mees and John Besser made a final sweep of the fire lines with their leaf blowers. Timmermann and his three-person crew appeared about 10:00 A.M. In the meantime, use of Scott’s Branch Trail was restricted for the safety of trail users.
Once everything and everyone was ready, the match was struck and the burn commenced. John Timmermann and his crew handled everything. Interestingly, two of the crew are volunteers for Boone County Fire Protection District. Columbia Audubon members busied themselves taking photos of the fire’s progress.
Four hours later it was all over. With nothing left to burn, the fire died out. The joy of Audubon’s onlookers was in stark contrast to the charred blackened ground that now greeted everyone’s view. This scene was the culmination of 10 years of growing, planning, and waiting.
There is one more step. Isn’t there always one more? The prairie was originally seeded with a mix of wildflowers, forbs and a variety of grasses. Germination is always a matter of “crossed fingers,” just ask a farmer. Germination of the grasses didn’t fare as well as expected. The burn is providing an opportunity to overseed selected areas specifically with native warm season grasses to correct the shortfall.
Once again, we are left with the hardest part of the whole project, waiting. We hope you, too, are anxious to see what pops up this spring.