by Bill Mees, Nature Areas Committee

The weather is colder. Grasses, wildflowers and forbs are turning brown and drying out. A small dusting of the “white stuff” confirms it. It might be time to conduct a prescribed fire. That is the future for the prairie at Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary.

Columbia Audubon Society has contracted with John Timmermann who specializes in conducting prescribed burns. He has prepared the formal burn plan and contacted Columbia’s Fire Department for their review and final approval. This past spring, John conducted the burn on the Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary prairie.

A work session last month found volunteers raking debris from the newly cleared firelines, shown here. Although leaves continue to fall from the surrounding trees, a quick once over with a leaf blower will clear the remaining litter. The strategically located fire lines combined with appropriate humidity, wind speed/direction and moisture will prevent the fire from escaping.

It is only natural to be concerned about fire. At some point in our lives, we were told not to play with matches, lest we start a fire. The south boundary of CANS is literally adjacent to neighboring homes. Setting a prescribed fire necessitates educational signage (see photo) to inform and allay any concerns.

The final step is the hardest: waiting for the exact right weather conditions to conform with the approved burn plan. If you want to help, volunteers will be needed to prevent walkers/bicyclists from using a portion of Scott’s Branch Trail during the burn. The burn will take approximately 2-3 hours. Interested? Call Bill at (573) 445-7781.