Arb on Fire

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Photo by Roger Pavelle

Each spring and fall, workers at the Arboretum set fire to portions of the landscape. “Fire is an important part of Minnesota natural areas,” says Alan Branhagen, director of operations at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. “Our prescribed fires are done before grassland birds are nesting, and our later spring burns were only done in areas where there were not spring ephemeral wildflowers. It can really set them back, not to mention deprive pollinators of their food!”

Fires were set in the prairie, ornamental grass collection and rain garden in late April and early May. “They were only completed in areas where we needed to control non-native cool season grasses,” Branhagen says. “The fire promotes the native warm season prairie grasses, and then ultimately provides better habitat for nesting birds and wildlife.”

Arboretum volunteer Kent Withington took some drone footage of this year’s controlled burns. Find videos of the prairie burn here, and the spring peeper meadow here.

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