The Ohio State University at Lima

Ohio State Lima plans first prairie burn

April 2, 2021

Tecumseh Interpretive Nature Preserve sign in prairie

The Ohio State University at Lima will hold a prescribed burn as part of the regular maintenance of its 19-acre prairie plot at the southeast corner of Mumaugh and Reservoir roads.

The burn is scheduled for Sunday, April 4, 2021, if weather permits.

“Fire is a natural part of the prairie ecosystem and helps maintain its health and vigor. It keeps woody plants like trees and shrubs out, keeping prairies as prairies,” said Burn Manager Roger Williams, associate professor of forest ecosystem analysis and management. “The burn favors native grasses and reduces non-natives, increases the biodiversity of the system, better enables seeds of grasses to germinate, and maintains important habitat for insects, butterflies, birds and small mammals.”

The prairie was planted in 2017 and this will be its first burn. More than 100 species of native prairie plants are represented on the site, including little bluestem, purple coneflower, wild senna, Indian blanket, and dense blazing star.

The burn will be conducted by Ohio State students from the School of Environment and Natural Resources. The students are taking classes in wildland fire management and have Incident Qualification Cards, commonly known as red cards, which enables them to work on wildland fire crews and prescribed burns. They also perform the prescribed burns at the Ohio State Marion Yoder Prairie.

Site preparation will begin around 9 a.m. and will include activities like double-checking fire control line conditions, protection of sensitive areas and the establishment of fire hose lays from the water pump by Lost Creek, which runs through campus.

Burning is expected to begin in the wooded area near the creek around 11 a.m., with the prairie burn beginning at 1 p.m. The project is expected to begin mop-up at 3 p.m. All times are estimates and actual start and end times will be determined by the weather conditions. The weather will also determine the burn method employed, which will affect the size of the flames visible from a distance.

While the public can watch the burn, they should stay on the west side of Mumaugh Road by Ferguson Reservoir. Public parking is available at the reservoir. The prairie parking lot sits within the burn area and will be closed to the public.

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