BAXTER -- Between May and June, The Nature Conservancy of Minnesota will conduct a prescribed burn at the Forestview Middle School forest in Baxter involving eight acres that were identified in the school forest management plan and pretreated for this purpose.
A public information meeting will be 7 p.m. Thursday in the Forestview cafetorium to discuss the prescribed burn.
The agenda for the one-hour meeting includes how the prescribed burn will be planned and implemented, as well as monitored. There will be a Firewise project discussion and how it applies to area homeowners, as well as information on how interested parties can sign up for home inspections at the end of the program.
Speakers include Kent Montgomery, The Nature Conservancy/Community-Based conservation coordinator and Brainerd School Board member; Tim Notch, The Nature Conservancy fire management community coordinator; Colin McGuigan, The Nature Conservancy land steward and fire leader; science director Chris Hanson and Forestview students who will monitor the site as a school project.
There will be time allotted for questions and answers related to the project.
The Nature Conservancy is working with local and state government officials on this project to protect an example of a very rare habitat that contains a mix of sand prairie and jack pine savanna plants. This jack pine savanna evolved with fire as a natural disturbance, shaping and creating a site with many species that depend on frequent surface fires for their continued survival. Due to the location within the Baxter limits, fires needed to support this type of habitat have been suppressed for a number of years. Without this necessary natural disturbance, the savanna has filled in with trees and brush, which are shading out the sun-loving prairie and savanna species while increasing fuel loads on the surface that could result in high intensity wildfires.
To maintain and restore jack pine savanna habitats at Forestview, The Nature Conservancy staff members and AmeriCorps NCCC plan first to selectively remove jack pine and various other tree and brush species to prepare this site for the prescribed fire. These activities will help to restore this site to a jack pine savanna and increase student visibility and safety associated with catastrophic wildfires as seen in Barrows during the spring of 2002. In combination with these mechanical treatments, the prescribed fire also will aid in reducing the probability of a high intensity wildfire on the site.
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