Fire and the Black Line
These images were taken in March of 2002 during the spring prescribed prairie burn at the preserve. The right amount of vortex created tornadoes of smoke. It was such an amazing sight, we wanted to share this experience.
Each spring specific areas of the preserve are burned to promote prairie diversity and its health. Just like the early settlers, the National Park Service places a "blackline" (or burn line) around the ranch headquarters area to protect the historic buildings from fire. Most common burn lines range from 50 to 100 feet wide.
In the photo to the left, the "blackline" was the first line to be burned. It was burned approximately two weeks before the other areas of the preserve were burned. Therefore, it was the first area to begin regrowth; note the green line. The blackened area to its left is the remains of the spring prescribed prairie burn. It too will begin growing grass.
Fire is essential to the health of the prairie. It rids the prairie of woody vegetation and undergrowth, while promoting new growth. Without fire, the prairie will becomes a forest over time.
Did You Know?
A single blade of big bluestem might have a root system descending over 8 feet underground. This is deep enough so that the plant will emerge in the spring even without rainfall. Big bluestem grows abundantly on the Southwind Nature Trail.