Firefighters Burn More Than 700 Acres at Loess Hills

By: Amaka Ubaka Email
By: Amaka Ubaka Email

Firefighters spent Monday up in the Loess Hills State Forest helping an area in desperate need of natural regeneration.

The burn also helps firefighters from around the country learn about controlled burns as part of a two-week national training program.

720 acres of the Loess Hills was set on fire to maintain and reestablish native prairie grasses.

Hundreds of species count on prairie grass as part of their habitat. Chad Graeve, a Natural Resource Specialist says the burn also serves another purpose.

“It's also important for humans because we have a healthier hydrology when it rains. More of the water infiltrates into the soil instead of running off contributing to flooding issues,” says Graeve.

Firefighters use a drip torch to light the fuel. They pour the fuel on the ground, light the wick of the torch on fire, and then start dragging it across the ground igniting the area.

Graeve says two important factors in a control burn are wind and the amount of moisture in the air.

“Many people assume we want no wind, but we actually want some wind.” “If we have no wind the fire kind of does what it wants to do.”

Moisture in the air affects the amount of moisture in the fuel firefighters burn and thee dryer the air, the hotter the fire.

Firefighters from the Pottawattamie County Conservation Board are planning a 33 acre controlled burn at the Vincent Bluff State Preserve in Council Bluffs Tuesday.

If you see smoke in that area, it should be part of the training and regeneration plan.

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