by John Besser, Nature Areas Committee

Six years have passed since we have conducted a prescribed fire in the open
oak woodlands at Wild Haven. Our management goal for this area is to use
periodic, low-intensity fire to maintain the open understory of the
woodland and to help control invasive woody shrubs like Autumn Olive and
Bush Honeysuckle. We’d like to get back to a fire frequency closer to once
every three years, and our starting point will be a prescribed fire planned for this
winter. We have delineated a burn unit of about 20 acres west of the Wild
Haven picnic area, which includes most of the drainage of the intermittent
creek that flows south to Hinkson Creek.

We hope to burn this area in early winter when the leaves are down, but
conditions are not extremely dry. Preparations for this burn are already
underway. We held two workdays in November to prepare fire lines along the
east and west boundaries of the burn unit, under the guidance of our “burn
boss,” Roxie Campbell. CAS volunteers were joined by Boy Scouts and adult
leaders from Troop 242. This was pretty grueling work that involved removal
of flammable materials (standing and downed dead wood, weeds, and leaves)
that could otherwise allow the fire to escape and spread outside of the
burn unit.

We will need more adult (18+) volunteers to help on the day of the burn.
Having prior training or experience is helpful, but not required.
Volunteers will be assigned to a crew and given a task, typically, using a
tool such as a rake, walking the fireline, and preventing the fire from
crossing the fire line. This work requires hiking on and off trails, and
some exposure to smoke is to be expected. Because conducting a safe and
effective burn is dependent on the weather, notice will be short (no more
than 3-4 days in advance).  Our hope is to burn sometime in December, but
it could be as late as March. If you are interested, please email Roxie and
ask to be added to an email group to receive notifications:

Prairie Expansion at CANS

Following up on the success of the 15-acre prairie restoration project at
Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary  and Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary (seeded
in January 2016), CAS has been preparing an additional 6 acres on the west
side of Scotts Branch Creek for an additional prairie planting. Over the
past two growing seasons, this area has been treated repeatedly with
herbicide to eliminate the existing non-native vegetation, and the site is
ready for seeding.  We have ordered seed mixes of prairie grasses and forbs
(wildflowers) and we plan to seed the area this winter. We’ll watch this
area closely as seeds germinate and plants mature and bloom over the coming