We Set the Place on Fire: Our Prescribed Burn Was a Success

I had heard of prescribed burns and my wife, Selena, had been wanting to do one for years. Boy, was I scared to death of the idea. I didn’t need to be, though. We pulled it off without a hitch.

So, why the burn?

Well, if you’ve read about The SnK you might have heard that we are involved in a Grassland Restoration project in the front 35 acres of our place. We’re working on turning the old hay field back into a native prairie. King Ranch Blue Stem and Coastal Bermuda had been planted and those are not native grasses.

We want to bring back the right stuff.

Our plans are to kill off the KR Blue Stem and Bermuda, then plant native grasses and wildflowers. To do the kill we’re going to have Round Up sprayed, but there was so much dead growth that it was advised to burn the acreage, then do the spraying.

We couldn’t have pulled the burn off without the help of Texas Parks and Wildlife folks. Trey Barron, Mark Lange, Greg Pleasant, Bobby Eichler, and our Biologist, Doug Jobes were instrumental in our success. Doug has spent some time with us in getting ready for the burn, helping me get the burn breaks in place and planning our next phases in this adventure.

As I mentioned, the burn was pulled off without a hitch and I won’t hesitate to do more. As Greg Pleasant put it, “We do all of our burns using this Cookie Cutter method. So far, every burn has been successful and we’ve done a bunch.” I’m so glad that we didn’t mess up their record.

Well, that’s enough of the verbiage, so how about some photos?

Mark Lange sets off the test burn. This was done to see how well the grass was going to burn and how it was going to behave.

Mark keeps tabs on the test burn. Greg Pleasant and Trey Barron can be seen in the background, prepping gear for when the actual burn was a go.

Mark supervises Selena as she “Puts Fire On The Ground.” She was pretty excited about getting to do this. I got my chance later, but no photos of me. 🙁

This is the Back Burn taking off. The idea behind it is to slowly burn into the wind a swath that’s 30 feet wide. This blackened area was to become a safety area in addition to the burn breaks that I put in place. This was done to help protect the neighbors’ fields, down wind.

Once the back burn was completed, side burns were begun. Two teams simultaneously started fire down the sides of the burn unit.

Once the side burns moved down the length of the unit, the burn was then worked across the upwind side of the unit. This was referred to as closing the loop. Once that was done the winds pushed the fire quickly into the unit. That’s when things got really exciting. Hot, too, if you were near the edge of the burn.

Here things are starting to take off. As you can see, there’s a fair amount of green for February. We almost missed the “Window” for doing a burn. Luckily, we had some good dry fuel. The green that’s visible is not the type of grass that we are needing to kill off, but unfortunately, it will get sprayed too. Luckily we’re going back in with the natives.

This was not long before the fire really took off. When things really started burning there was so much smoke you really couldn’t see the flame.

Looking North, the fire has consumed most of the dry stuff.

Looking South, towards the house, you can see how much actually burned. There’s a fair amount of green left, but the heavy dry stuff is gone.

This looking toward the front gate. I sure wish that I had shot before the burn photos, then you’d have a good idea of how much grass we burned.

Having read about and hearing presentations about Prescribed Burns I had a bit of an idea of what they are like. Thing though, reading about and hearing about is not the same as doing. Sure was a neat adventure.

Selena and I have decided that we want to get some formal training, so we can do our own burns. Can’t always have Texas Parks and Wildlife out.

In closing, our hats are off to Trey Barron, Mark Lange, Greg Pleasant, Bobby Eichler, and Doug Jobes. These guys were educating and entertaining. We sure appreciate there help in pulling this off.

Until next time, Peace!

Keith, the K at The SnK