The Rice Lake Plains Partnership, including the Northumberland County Forest, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Alderville Black Oak Savanna, plan to oversee prescribed burns in Northumberland County later this month to support the conservation of rare local ecosystems.
These monitored and controlled ground fires will encourage the growth of the globally-threatened oak savannah, oak woodland and tallgrass prairie habitats by removing grass, brush and leaves, thereby changing light levels in the area. This increased sun exposure nourishes the targeted species and warms the blackened earth that results from the burn to support the growth of native species. Native plants are protected from the burn by their thick bark and/or deep roots.
“Prescribed burns are an important tool in conservation management,” states Acting Natural Heritage Manager Mike Muldoon. “These controlled burns help to remove invasive plants and reduce the risk of wildfires by managing the amount of fuel load created by flammable vegetation in the area. This management technique restores the health of the ecosystem and improves wildlife habitat.”
A prescribed burn follows a detailed planning process developed in consultation with fire officials from the Township of Alnwick/Haldimand, Township of Hamilton and Township of Cramahe to ensure safety and effectiveness. Safety protocols and safe zones are also reviewed with all on-site staff prior to the burn.
Staff continue to use weather modelling and monitor temperatures daily to determine an appropriate timeline to conduct the burns within the next few weeks. These dates will be determined in alignment with ecological and cultural best management practices, which include the consideration of dryness, wind speeds and fuel on site.