Thursday, April 14, 2011

Daughmer Burns- fire as a tool

Fire can either be friend or foe. Usually considered destructive or bad, fire can be a tool for rejuvenation. Fire has played a significant role in the management of prairies since the days of Native Americans. Lack of fire even led to the decline of lupines, and Karner Blue butterflies in the Oak Openings.

Fire is added to the landscape at Daughmer Savannah, our state newest- and 135th State Nature Preserve. Managed by Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, now under the Ohio State Parks.

These are well planned operations, with plenty of fore-thought for safety, wind speeds and directions are monitored and copious amounts of water is on standby.

Daughmer- a diamond in the rough. This Bur Oak Savannah is a significant piece of Ohio history and one of the rare remnants of Ohio land that escaped both plow and timber crews.

These majestic 200 year old oaks speak of perseverance, even fire can not penetrate their thickened bark. They remain as sentinels of a time past. The prairie at their feet was degraded by sheep grazing, and the creep of invasive plants. Fire will help to turn back the time, and allow fire dependant plants to thrive again.

The back-fire is set, crawling slowly across the ground, it provides a safety line.

Wind pushes the head fire across the prairie to meet up with backfire. This burn was the ultimate in safety and control, with high moisture content in the grass, it created a slow smoldering burn.

Sunlight plays on smoke as the fire creeps through the oaks. There is nearly mystical feeling to see the blending of fire and forbs. This power, which can be so destructive can also be a source of new life and growth.

Daughmer Prairie survives to see another century, and we are fortunate to witness a small part of its story.


  1. I'm so glad I got to see it, and to see Daughmer survive. It's a special place.

  2. You are doing far more with fire than we are. We have areas that really need burning or forest will take ove the grassland.