Local natural areas held prescribed burns recently

PRESCRIBED BURN–Monroe County resident and IDNR District Forester Bear Engbring, at center, is pictured lighting the prescribed burn at Overlook Prairie at White Rock Nature Preserve. Three volunteers were stationed along the edge with water packs and rakes to ensure fire didn’t jump down to the talus slope, while another volunteer was stationed on Harris Road to keep watch with binoculars for spot-overs. The view from the top of the prairie was spectacular. Prior to lighting the fire, two eagles were seen dancing over the valley.

Prescribed burn season has come to an end locally and many nearby natural areas have seen fire during this season, some for the first time.

Prescribed fire is essential to the health of hill prairie and woodland ecosystems as it helps to eliminate invasive plants and woody encroachment and also puts nutrients back into the soil.

Burned for the first time in decades were: Heather’s Hollow Natural Heritage Landmark near Valmeyer, Renault Karst Nature Preserve, Clifftop’s Storment-Hauss Nature Preserve and Pautler Cave Nature Preserve. White Rock Nature Preserve hosted multiple burns, most recently on Overlook Prairie and Rattlesnake Glade.

For more information, please see this week’s print edition.