WWU Ecology Class to Participate in Prairie Burn

The idea of burning a field to encourage new growth might seem counterproductive, but that is exactly what an ecology class at William Woods University is planning to do.


The burn will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 29, around 2:30 p.m. at the Prairie Garden Trust, weather permitting. The Prairie Garden Trust is approximately 7 miles south of Fulton on Henry Domke’s property.


“Burning is a management tool for conserving prairie habitat in Missouri,” Jim Wilson, WWU biology instructor, said. “If the native grasslands were not burned every few years, they would begin to transition to forests. Most prairies are burned off about every four years.”


He added, “Burning simply removes aboveground grasses and forbs (non-woody vegetation other than grasses, such as sunflowers and milkweeds) and the invading tree saplings. The underground part of the prairie (which is 90 percent of it) remains and fresh vegetation sprouts within weeks and a greener, healthier prairie is in place by the next year.”


Jamie Coe, the prairie manager, will involve Wilson’s ecology class in the burn.


“This is a great opportunity for hands-on learning,” Wilson said.