The Buzz

Before and after: Prescribed burn at Braidwood Dunes

Prescribed burn season is upon us, when fire is used at a number of preserves as one of the many tools the District implements as part of its land management strategy.

On Thursday, it was Braidwood Dunes and Savanna Nature Preserve's turn to feel the burn.

The 315-acre preserve is broken up into multiple units and the District tries to burn different portions each year. This particular prescribed burn included 102 acres.

"All of the evidence suggests that Illinois savannas burned almost annually prior to the 1800s," said Floyd Catchpole, Land Management Program coordinator for the District. "In the 20th century, the savanna became overgrown with woody vegetation and invasive species, resulting in the loss of some rare species and a decline in abundance of most others."

Catchpole said the ongoing restoration effort will thin the invasive overgrowth so that the many species native to the savanna will recover. 

And while the landscape may look bare after a prescribed burn, the controlled fire actually returns nutrients to the soil, making them readily available for the next generation of vegetation growth.

In addition to its benefits for the ecosystem, prescribed burns also offer up some stunning visuals. This is especially apparent when comparing two photos taken less than 24 hours apart. 

See for yourself. 

Before and After

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