Burn starts, wind shifts, rains come, now we wait
When the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Facilities Management crew began the 2012 prairie burn near the flagpoles, wind conditions were just right. They didn't stay that way.
"When we started, the wind was coming north to south," said Facilities Management Assistant Director Dave Olsen. "Then the wind shifted and was blowing directly toward the campus."
To minimize the smell of smoke in the main complex, operations shifted to the area east of the Case Field softball diamonds. A small parcel of land along the disc golf course on University Drive was also burned.
As UW-Parkside Biological Sciences Professor Dave Rogers said in a Ranger Today article earlier this week, prairies need fire to function properly. Fire kills invading shrub and tree species, returns vital nutrients to the soil, removes insulating thatch, and increases flowering and seed production helping butterflies, birds, and other animals that rely on prairie plants for food and shelter.
The burn was front page in Friday's Kenosha News and was one of the stories covered in the paper's Weekday Report. The brief story begins at the 2:28 mark of the webcast.
More burning is needed to complete the project--Olsen estimates there is still 80 percent of the campus prairie left to do--but the weather will have to cooperate."We can't burn in the rain and the grass will need time to dry," Olsen said with one eye on the seven-day forecast. He added that, weather permitting, the prairie burn could resume Thursday, April 5.