NORTHWOOD — There’s a reason why a prescribed burn is named as such.
A perfect prescription of wind, temperature, staffing and season must be followed to begin a burn, which can be extremely helpful in eliminating invasive plants and letting native ones emerge and thrive.
Adrien Lowein-Kirian, burn boss for the Wood County Park District, explained the prescribed burn process to the park board at Tuesday’s meeting, held at the Reuthinger Memorial Preserve.
A prescribed burn has been done most recently at Bradner Preserve.
The day of the burn, Lowein-Kirian said she notifies area law enforcement and knocks on neighbors’ doors to let them know what to expect.
A decision is made the day of the burn, so it’s difficult to do advance notification, she said.
“We could be out at the burn site and I could be ‘nope, it’s not humid enough … or it’s 22 mph winds and it was supposed to be 10,’” she said.
“The planning is done very precisely,” said park district Director Neil Munger. “They have a window,” he said. “There are very tight constraints that they use.”
“Fire’s a really good management tool,” Lowein-Kirian said. “Historically, the habitats here are fire dependent.”
There are records from the 1700s about how explorers noted burn areas and how they were used to control growth.
Prescribed burns can reduce organic matter, thin out thatch layers in prairies, and increase nutrient cycling and make nutrients more readily available, such as calcium phosphorus and potassium.
They also improve seed germination and increase bio diversity.
“All sorts of cool native stuff comes out when invasives are gone,” Lowein-Kirian said.
Alternatives to fire are applying herbicide and mowing, raking and blowing, which can be labor intensive, she said.
A combination of methods often work best, she said.
The park district follows Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Agency laws, Lowein-Kirian said.
“Any time of the year, we have to work through the Ohio EPA for any open burning that we do,” she said.
To get a burn going, a fire triangle of air, heat and fuel is created, she said.
Fuels are be anything that can burn, such as grasses, shrubs and timber litter.
Other factors are slope, wind, humidity, temperature, fuel moisture and fuel loading.
Most of the fires are a ring fire with rapid ignition, maximizing fire breaks and minimizing spot fires. A high intensity fire is good for woody species control in grasslands.
A prescribed burn mitigates air quality problems by lifting smoke in one plume, Lowein-Kirian said.
After a burn, the staff check back frequently at the park to make sure stumps aren’t smoking and all fire is out.
Also at the meeting, the board:
• Awarded a $24,960 bid to Stall Electric, Bradner, to run power to the implement barn at the Carter Historic Farm.
Munger said that power is needed to run a pump there.
• Approved buying security cameras and software for some parks. InTech IT Solutions will do the work for $6,923.
Cameras are now at park headquarters, Carter Farm, W.W. Knight Preserve and Sawyer Quarry in Perrysburg and Otsego Park.
Board member Tom Meyers asked what the protocol is for monitoring cameras.
If it detects any motion, it’s recording, Munger said. Footage is stored for a couple of months
Munger said that rangers can monitor through phones, tablet in vehicle; he can also see it.