The Wisconsin Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) conducted, on March 31, 2015, a prescribed burn on property near its Pickerel Lake Fen Preserve in Walworth County, Wisconsin. The burn unit consisted of approximately 150 acres of oak openings, grassland, prairie, and wetland. As you can see, it was a spectacular burn, but there were no incidents of personal injury or property damage. And at the end of a very long day everyone went home tired but healthy, happy, and satisfied with a job well done.
TNC fire managers had on hand a large crew ( 24 people ) which consisted of many experienced burners who were trained and certified in conducting and managing prescribed burns (full disclosure, I was a member of the burn crew that day). Also on the burn crew was a team of AmeriCorps youth interns from around the country–fresh off classroom training in the principles of conducting prescribed fire–who received hands on training and mentoring from the experienced fire fighters during the burn.
Here, Eric Mark, TNC burn boss, explains the operations plan during the pre-burn briefing. In the briefing, the day’s objectives are explained, personnel assignments are make and the day’s strategy and tactics are described.
Also on hand for the burn was a film crew from Milwaukee public television station WPTV, shooting footage of the burn for a future episode of its weekly “Outdoor Wisconsin” program. The story of the Pickerel Lake Fen Preserve prescribed burn (program #3208) recently aired on WPTV and can be viewed by clicking here. The TNC burn section begins at about 8:57 into the tape.
The video does an excellent and thorough job of describing why, and how prescribed burns are conducted, and how the decision to burn or not is made. The video takes you inside the burn crew as it receives instruction on the burn plan, what crew members can expect during the day, and how to respond in case of unexpected events. The footage takes you along on the burn and right up to the fireline, with a perspective as up-close as you will ever have to a prescribed fire, that is unless you are a member of the fire crew.
This is one of the best documentary videos about prescribed fire–and its use as a restoration tool–that I have seen. Every time I watch it I feel like I am back on the burn and reliving every exciting and exhausting moment.