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An era ends as Iowa State fires Paul Rhoads

County conservation manages land with fire

Sears: fire as one of the best management tools

Since the Floyd County burn ban was lifted, this week was the first week Floyd County Conservation employees could get out to do some much needed fire maintenance around the county. Wanting to err on the side of caution, Conservation Director Adam Sears and his conservation employees waited until most of the crops had been taken off of the field.

Last spring, conservation employees burned around 200 acres. This fall did not include quite as many acres.

“We’ll probably burn around 30 or 40 acres,” Sears said. In the spring more acres are able to be managed with fire as they burn more quickly.

“Fall burns are slower going, a lot more green and higher relative humidity,” he said. This causes some areas to fizzle out and not burn completely, leaving patchy areas that will need to be relit to complete the burn.

During this fall burn, Sears and his staff are targeting areas that have never been burned. Naturalist Heidi Reams noted the particular 15 acre patch of prairie that was being burned at the Fossil and Prairie Center had never been burned in her 11 years with the county.

“(We) consider fire as one of the best management tools we have,” Sears said.

Fire helps to more effectively attack invasive weeds.

“This specific area has buckthorn and Russian olive — both are on the state’s noxious weeds list,” Sears said. “(The fire will) target some of the smaller ones and then we can come back through and cut and spray stumps.” A few cedar trees had also begun to grow in the 15 acre patch being maintained Tuesday. “At Fossil and Prairie (Center) we’re trying to keep a prairie ecosystem, so get rid of brush and trees,” Sears said.

Other goals to be accomplished by burning throughout the county include getting rid of leaf litter at Tosanak Recreation Area.

“(We’ll) try to get that out of there to try to cut down on the rodent problem,” Sears said.

Sears and his staff are certified to conduct controlled, prescribed burns.

“We all have training we go to every year; a fire refresher course,” he said. “It’s not mandatory by the state, it’s county to county. As far as I’m concerned, what’s wrong with a refresher course?”

By Amie Johansen amie@charlescitypress.com

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