Thursday March 22, 2007
Prescribed Fire Controls Invasive Weeds, Supports Native Grasses and Wildflowers
[click here] to view a gallery of photos from the operation.|
Metro Parks conducted a controlled burn today on 16 acres of the Tyler-Schooling Property, a 283-acre conservation area that has been set aside for future development as park land through the City of Parks
initiative. The controlled burn will promote establishment of native wildflowers and warm season grasses planted in 2005, while reducing competition from invasive weeds.
During the burn, approximately 20 workers from Metro Parks and other agencies set fire to open meadow areas in two separate tracts. While workers at a command post monitored overall progress, some personnel were in charge of lighting fires, and additional staff worked at the opposite end of the burn zones to extinguish the flames.
In 2002, Metro Parks began using controlled burns as an ecological management technique in Iroquois Park. Through a Natural Areas program that focuses on improving the maintenance of local parks with significant nature preserve areas, Metro Parks plans to conduct controlled burns on a rotating basis in places such as Iroquois Park and Jefferson Memorial Forest. Each location will be burned every two to three years as this management technique becomes more routine in parks.
“This particular burn was the first one conducted by Metro Parks since our Natural Areas program was created in 2004, and significant staff training and planning were necessary before implementing the burn,” said Bennett Knox, manager of Natural Areas for Metro Parks. “Whereas prior burns at the top of Iroquois Park had been conducted with significant assistance from outside groups, this burn and subsequent controlled burns will be led and implemented by Metro Parks staff who have attended controlled fire training at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, using curriculum developed by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Implementation of this formal controlled burn program is part of our effort – in response to the City of Parks initiative – to become better stewards over the significant acreage of natural areas within the Metro Parks system.” Knox was in charge of today’s controlled burn.
Fire is an important tool in maintaining healthy habitats for many kinds of plants and animals, some of which are dependent upon periodic fires for survival. Today’s fire will promote the establishment of native grasses and wildflowers, while impeding the growth of non-native and exotic species. During a burn, fire is controlled using natural and artificial “fire breaks” – roads, streams, trails and mowed lines that contain the fire to a desired area – as well as through a variety of fire suppression methods.
Several partners worked with Metro Parks to ensure that the controlled burn was successful. The Jeffersontown Fire Protection District provided firefighters and equipment to offer assistance had the fire moved beyond the prescribed burn area. The Olmsted Parks Conservancy provided staff to assist with the burn. The Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District reviewed the plan and issued a permit. The Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources provided financial support through the federal Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program. Immediate neighbors were notified that a controlled burn would take place.
The Tyler-Schooling Property, acquired in two phases in 1999 and 2000, is part of the master planning process currently underway for the Floyds Fork Greenway Project; along with the adjacent Floyd’s Fork Park and other properties, there is an opportunity to create a new park that would be at least the size of Cherokee Park. 21st Century Parks, a non-profit organization founded by David A. Jones and Dan Jones, is working to acquire and develop a system of interconnected parks and trails along a 27-mile stretch of Floyds Fork, from Shelbyville Road to Bardstown Road. That project is one component of the City of Parks initiative, which calls for the acquisition and development of thousands of acres of new park land, a 100-mile paved metro loop path encircling the city, and an unprecedented number of capital improvement projects in existing parks.