Critics of field burning to conduct their own [fire] on prairie
(Note: Do you think TNC sent out an advance warning to all the creatures, that their homes, i.e., habitat, would soon go "up in smoke?" TNC to farmers: Our Smoke better than Your Smoke. Where nothing is holy but our Power and Control of the land / water / "ecosystem" / country / world / UNIVERSE.)
September 20, 2006
By Diane Dietz [email protected] or 541-338-2376
P.O. Box 10188
Eugene, Oregon 97440-2188
To submit a Letter to the Editor: [email protected] (250-word limit)
chide grass seed farmers for burning their fields and filling the
skies with smoke that can choke children and asthmatics.
this fall, conservationists -- kissing cousins to environmentalists --
together with a government agency, are preparing to do some field
burns of their own.
Nature Conservancy and the Bureau of Land Management [BLM] hope
to char the vegetation off about 214 acres of their jointly-owned
3,000-acre prairie in west
nonprofit group and the BLM stress that prairie burning is very
different from the controversial fires that
doesn't look anything like the smoke column that we see north of town
that goes up and it's black, and it's huge, and it hangs," said
Jason Nuckols, the conservancy's
natural prairie fires produce a wispier smoke.
if we do 100 acres, it would be such light smoke,"
said Nancy Ashlock, a BLM fire staff member. "We
don't have a big, huge intense column that (farmers) get."
The dates of the BLM/Nature Conservancy blazes are uncertain because the practice requires specific wind and humidity conditions.
the last day the agencies can burn is October 15, so they'll try to
get the job done before then.
The grass has to be dry for a day or two to ignite well, Ashlock said.
the winds have to be blowing from the north to carry the smoke over
the hills to the south and away from the metropolitan area.
in the air has gained more attention as scientists find ever-stronger
evidence that it causes illness and death from heart and lung
When grass seed farmers burn, they make giant clouds because they sometimes burn hundreds of acres at a time.
Nuckols said conservationists burn tens of acres at a time.
seed fires burn from two to four times more material per acre,
compared with natural prairie burns, according to conservancy
you walk around in the prairie, there's a lot of open ground. You walk
out into a (grass seed) field that's planted in rows millimeters
apart, it's solid," Nuckols said.
we're burning, I stand right in the middle of the burn. I'm moving
through it with a drip torch -- I don't think you could do that in the
middle of a field burn with all that smoke," Nuckols added.
But conservationists and grass seed farmers burn for some of the same reasons.
flames remove thatch and make room for a desired plant -- for grass
seed farmers, that's a pure, marketable lawn seed; for
conservationists, it's a variety of native plants.
conservationists also burn to get rid of woody plants such as
blackberries and ash trees that, if left to their own devices, would
cover over the last remnants of historical prairie lands in the
a lot more trees, you shade out your prairie plants. We lose the
diversity if we don't burn," Nuckols said.
seed farmers stared burning in 1948 on the advice of crop experts at
Kalapuya burned the
the conservancy says the flames will bolster the remaining populations
of threatened prairie plants, such as Bradshaw's lomatium.
conservancy has burned acreage in west
grass seed farmers, conservationists need government permission to
burn. Because the fields are in city limits, The Nature Conservancy
and the BLM need permission from
month, Nuckols carefully described the conservancy's plan -- and
sharply distinguished it from field burning -- in a presentation to
the air agency's board of directors. The board allowed the plan to
was fairly assured they were doing everything they could to minimize
the smoke and the impacts on people," board member David Monk
felt pretty confident that it was a good thing, and the manner they
were doing it was satisfactory."
the other hand, Monk said there's a move a foot among some LRAPA board
members to send a formal request to the Oregon Legislature next year
to further restrict the grass seed farmer's ability to burn straw
Nature Conservancy promotes a nationwide policy of using fire to
stimulate the return of biodiversity to prairies and woodlands. Here's
the number of acres the group has burned in
2005: 245 acres
Copyright 2006, The Register-Guard.