On April 6, 2018, NPS firefighters successfully completed a prescribed fire in Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts’s one-acre native meadow. The goals were to return nutrients to the soil, help native species’ seeds germinate, and control non-native plants such as stiltgrass. This was the first prescribed fire in Wolf Trap, as well as the first prescribed fire on federal land in Fairfax County, Virginia. Firefighters completed the action in about one hour. Prince William Forest Park, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, Rock Creek Park and Fairfax County Department of Fire and Rescue assisted Wolf Trap staff.
Wolf Trap Completes First-ever Prescribed Fire
“This was a safe and successful prescribed fire,” Park Superintendent George Liffert said. “We are thankful for the effort the team put in to plan and execute this operation, and we are eager to see the results.”
The plan called for using the terrain and wind conditions to test how different types of fire would affect the meadow’s plants. Firefighters intentionally created slow-moving and fast-moving fires in different areas of the meadow. This method will allow park scientists to study the results of different types of fire and help the National Park Service make informed decisions in future actions.
The native meadow is a bowl-shaped landform surrounded by the paved approach to the Filene Center’s main gate. Previously a mowed grass area, it was converted to native plants in 2012. The area serves as an outdoor classroom and as a beautiful haven for native plants, pollinators, and other wildlife.