Monday, April 18, 2011

After a prescribed burn: Morton Grove's brown lands

"Yet here we still are, while all the gardens of the Entwives are wasted: Men call them the Brown Lands now." J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers.

Unlike the effects of the war that destroyed the lands of the Entwives in the second volume of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings,this month's prescribed burn in Morton Grove's Miami Woods was conducted to bring new life to the restored prairie in there. The "waste" in mind here is the destruction of non-native and invasive plants.

That's not dark Illinois soil, it's burnt grass stubble.

The North Branch Restoration Project regularly conducts burns in restored prairies.

From their web site:

Today, fire remains key to sustaining healthy native ecosystems, performing a "house cleaning" function that prevents brush and invasive species from choking the woodlands, savannas and prairies. Controlled burns, also known as prescribed burns, have a number of positive effects: they release nutrients back to the soil; stimulate germination in seeds of many native plants, including some rare species; increase flower and seed production of others; and open the woodland floor to sunlight so that native trees, wildflowers and grasses flourish. The resulting profusion of flowers, seeds and fruits is critical to the survival of wide variety of animals of all kinds and sizes, from insects to birds to mammals.

The prairie section east of the bicycle path was not burned.

This smoldering brush pile is a couple of hundred of yards south of the prairie.

Parking at Miami Woods is available at the Caldwell Avenue entrance between Oakton and Waukegan. The prairies is about 400 yards north of the lot.

Related post:

Morton Grove's restored tallgrass prairie, part one (about the Linne Woods prairie)

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