Prescribed burn at Perch Lake

Having laid a wet line around one of the stops along the Bookworm Trail, Sarah Anderson stands by to spray down any embers that might get to the structure. The post-burn pattern shows she did an excellent job.

St. Croix County Parks staff conducted two prescribed burns in two prairie habitat areas – Homestead Parklands on Perch Lake – on Wednesday, May 3. 

The largest section burned was the prairie encircled by the Bookworm Trail. The other section was the prairie restoration area near the playground parking lot. Staff divided into two crews of four consisting of an igniter, water utility vehicle, a person with portable water sprayer and a debris raker/watcher. 

The latter’s main job was to watch, away from the burn, for any escaping embers.

Reed Junco led the back burn crew, while burn boss Ryan Brathal led the main burn crew. 

The teams utilized radios to keep in constant contact when out of sight. It was important to keep the back burn crew slightly ahead of the main burn so it would snuff out.

Why conduct a prescribed burn?

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, prescribed burns, 

  • Removes old vegetation to make room for new growth. 

  • Shifts soil nutrients to a state more favorable to prairie species. 

  • Helps reduce the spread of invasive and pest species. 

  • Consumes excess fuel, such as dead and downed trees, reducing dangerous and intense wildfires.

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