Human-initiated burning of the prairie is done for two reasons. First, since the prairie is such a small fragment, surrounded by farmland, it no longer has the opportunity to be burned by wide, sweeping fires that would spread over vast sections of undisturbed prairies. Second, living in the real world, other non-native species have invaded the environment. One means of control of these species is a burn, which can destroy the newcomers while leaving intact prairie species that have very deep roots and maybe in rare cases cause dormant seeds to germinate.
Burns on the prairie have been carried out in sections, in part to allow animal life to be able to flee to a safe habitat. Burns have been done on portions of Wilson Prairie on March 27, 1990, by the Sinnissippi Prairie People in cooperation with the farm tenants and the Natural Land Institute. Another burn was done in 1991, and another in 1993.
Don Miller and Mike Delmore prepared a comprehensive site management schedule in September, 1992. In addition to burns, later on carried out less frequently, additional control of invasive species was recommended, including girdling trees, cutting Sumac with a tractor, and application of Roundup to Locusts. The work of former prairie steward, Andy Bacon, and Natural Land Institute volunteers has been essential in the implementation of this plan. Current Director of Land Stewardship Kevin Rohling now coordinates this work.
Volunteers for work with this project and others are always welcome. Volunteer work can range from easy jobs like weeding clover, through cutting sumac, to more difficult jobs like participating in burns. Please contact Zach Grycan.