A prairie burn was conducted at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge last week in mid-October. The Refuge ecosystems represents a unique ecological area between the dry, sagebrush dotted grasslands of the Columbia Basins and the forested mountains that rise up to the east. Fire is a natural phenomenon and has played a critical role in the ecosystem dynamics of natural communities represented within Turnbull NWR. Here, prescribed fire was conducted to:
1. Protect and restore the natural distribution and diversity of grassland and shrub steppe habitats to benefit indigenous wildlife and improve resilience to wildfire disturbance.
2. Reduce excessive accumulation of litter from invasive annual grass species to facilitate experimental application of control strategies using herbicides and post treatment seeding of native plant species.
3. Ultimately improve ecosystem health through management of invasive plant species and restoration of native plant communities.
The project would not have been completed without coordination and consultation with the Refuge biologist and graduate student, the participation of wildland firefighter certified (red-carded) maintenance staff and assistance from the Refuge’s fire cooperators, Spokane Dist. BLM. (E-6696 & the Veterans Recruitment Act Crew 6201), Spokane Co. Fire Dist. #3, and the US Forest Service.
Photos courtesy of Ken Meinhart, Turnbull NWR.