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Conservation Academy gains hands-on experience in prescribed burns

Updated: May 31, 2023

Spring is prescribed burn season in the Midwest! Prescribed burns are intentionally set fires within a predetermined area, helping to reduce invasive species and stimulate native plant growth. Wisconsin is full of oak savannahs and prairies, which evolved with fire originally set by lightning strikes or Native American tribes. Fire is an important natural resources management strategy and fire practitioners require training and certifications.

A field that has been recently burned using controlled fire

Photo credit Elizabeth McBride © 2023.

Over the month of April, Operation Fresh Start Conservation Academy members participated in numerous prescribed burns with the DNR, The Nature Conservancy, and Dane County Parks. About 600 acres were successfully burned this past season in Donald Park, Stewart Lake, Mud Lake Wildlife Area, Ice Age Trail (Verona), Thomson Memorial Prairie (Blue Mounds), and Kettle Moraine State Forest. This was OFS’s first year of participating in prescribed fires and it was a huge success thanks to our partners who were willing to include us and provided training opportunities!

Photo credit, left to right, Bobbi Rooney, Shane Otto, Elizabeth McBride © 2023.

“I am so proud of my crew for working really hard to get their fire practitioner certifications in March and dive into burn season with curiosity and excitement,” said Bobbi Rooney, Conservation Academy supervisor, “The crew got tons of practice with ignitions, radio communication, water pumps, and just being super flexible and ready to jump into situations with short notice as burn season is all weather dependent!”

Learn more about prescribed burns in the Midwest from The Nature Conservancy in their article, "Restoring Fire to Wisconsin's Native Landscapes." Learn more about our Conservation Academy here and consider donating today to ensure these opportunities remain available for our emerging adults in Dane County!


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