On April 8, 2020, Turner Forestry performed a prescribed burn of the 52-acre prairie at McCloud Nature Park. Below are a number of resources about the burn for your education and enjoyment.
Frequently asked questions about prescribed prairie burns:
🔥 How long will it take for the prairie to be green again?
Answer: In about 4 weeks, you likely won’t be able to see any burned areas. (Watch the video presentation below for time-lapse photos from the last burn in 2016.)
🔥 Will there be a prairie maze in the fall?
Answer: Yes, the grass will be tall in the fall as usual and we’ll have a prairie maze like normal.
🔥 What about the wildlife?
Answer: Prescribed burns are timed to avoid the season of ground-nesting birds and turtles laying eggs. Prescribed burns are conducted in the fall or spring to avoid these egg-laying seasons, and because these times of the year are when the weather conditions are right for burns. (Watch the video presentation below for more information on the timing of burns.)
🔥 How often do you burn the prairie?
Answer: Prairies are usually burned only every 2-3 years.
🔥 How long did it take to burn the prairie at McCloud?
Answer: The safety meeting started at noon, and lighting of the first fire was shortly after that. We burned the prairie in sections, especially close to the park boundary. We were done around 3 pm. The duration depends on the weather conditions.
🔥 What is planted in the “prairie ” and is it native to our state?
Answer: This is a planted prairie, with big bluestem among other grasses, and wildflowers. Prairies were naturally found in Indiana, mostly north of Lafayette. Some of those prairie areas still exist but many were turned into farmland as prairie soil is very rich. (Check out Kankakee Sands managed by The Nature Conservancy in Indiana.)
Other questions can be answered by viewing the video presentation below.
Why Do We Burn the Prairie?
Park Naturalist Sarah Wolf explains why the prairie is burned on a regular basis in her virtual “On Fire!” program below.
Photos of the 2020 Prairie Burn by Deb Stukenborg
Local photographer Deb Stukenborg was on site for the 2020 prairie burn and took the photos below.
Highlights from the 2020 Prairie Burn
A 1:26 video with some of the highlights of the 3-hour-long prairie burn.
What Takes Place During a Prairie Burn?
In this much longer (30:59) video filmed and narrated by our Assistant Superintendent, viewers will get an in-depth look at the prairie burn from several different locations throughout the property. This video is designed to be educational for those who are interested in a detailed look at the burn.
Four Days After the Burn
Just four (4) days after the prairie burn, new plant growth has already begun.