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Contact: Gia Wagner, 507-825-5464
Pipestone National Monument has scheduled a prescribed burn during the period of May 1 – June 1, 2008. When appropriate wind, temperature, and humidity conditions exist between these dates, approximately 100 acres of tallgrass prairie will be burned in a controlled manner. Trained wildland fire fighters will monitor the progress of the fire with water tankers and fire fighting tools. The prescribed burn will take place to control the nonnative plant species; sweet clover, smooth brome and Kentucky bluegrass, as well as recycle nutrients to maintain native prairie plant species.
This is the 36th consecutive year that the Monument has burned the tallgrass prairie. Because of management efforts through prescribed burns, exotic vegetation control, and broadcast of native prairie seed long-term monitoring indicates a transition from non-native vegetation to native tallgrass prairie at the Monument. With continued prescribed burns and other management activities this trend should continue.
Historically, the 18 million acres of native tallgrass prairie in Minnesota experienced repeated lightning caused natural fires in the spring and fall, with occasional summer fires. American Indians also deliberately set fire to the prairies to control flies and mosquitoes, and to reduce ground cover for easier defense and for hunting. Regardless of the cause, fire reduces the buildup of accumulated organic plant material, encourages native grass growth, and suppresses the growth of woody tree and shrub species. This in turn ensures native prairie growth by recycling essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphate, potassium, and trace minerals, and decreasing plant competition from invading exotic species.
Native prairie around Pipestone National Monument was plowed under for agriculture, the city of Pipestone, and roadways. Only a patchwork of native prairie remains in Pipestone County and less than one percent of the original 18 million acres of prairie found in Minnesota remains. This loss had greatly changed the probability of lightening ignited fires. Therefore, natural caused fires are very infrequent within the Monument.
If you would like further information on the prescribed fire program at the Monument, please call Resources Program Manager Gia Wagner at 507-825-5464.