Area residents likely saw smoke rising from the southern part of the Marion campus on Thursday and wondered what was going on.
Muskingum Valley Woodland Services was doing a controlled burn of the 11-acre Larry Yoder Prairie at Ohio State Marion. The last time a burn was conducted was in 2008. The reason for the burn is to control invasive plants, prevent an uncontrolled fire, and allow new prairie seeds to germinate and emerge.
The burn started at noon on Thursday, March 29th and lasted most of the afternoon.
Ohio State Marion Prairie Coordinator Emily Meyer explained, it’s ideal to conduct a burn about every three to five years to emulate the prairie’s natural cycle.
Technicians conducted a pre-fire briefing, taking into account current and forecast weather conditions. Winds of five to six miles per hour from the north and clear skies made for ideal burn conditions.
The technicians, who are wild-fire firefighters by trade, started the controlled burn in the southeast corner of the prairie, making sure the burn stayed on the downwind side of the prairie, so it could be kept under control.
The controlled burn costs $5,000 and is being paid for out of the Ohio State Marion Prairie Endowment, started by Trella Romine and other patrons when the prairie was first established in the 1970s.
Romine was present at the prairie shelter house named in her honor to watch Thursdays burn.
It is expected that new seedlings will begin emerging in just a few weeks following today’sthe burn.
A technician from Muskingum Valley Woodland Services lights the first flame on a controlled burn at the Ohio State Marion Larry Yoder Prairie on Thursday, March 29, 2012.
Technicians hold a pre-burn meeting before setting the Ohio State Marion Larry Yoder Prairie on fire on Thursday.
Technicians from Muskingum Valley Woodland Services “pour” fire into the prairie at Ohio State Marion during a controlled burn on Thursday.
Ohio State Marion Prairie Coordinator Emily Meyer monitors the flames during a controlled burn at the Ohio State Marion Larry Yoder Prairie on Thursday.
One of the “fire-starters” from Muskingum Valley Woodland Services monitors the wind during the controlled burn at the Ohio State Marion Larry Yoder Prairie on Thursday.
Trella Romine stands outside the new prairie shelter house bearing her name while she observes the controlled burn on the Ohio State Marion Larry Yoder Prairie on Thursday.