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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Nature Conservancy Plans Controlled Burn at Flat Ranch Preserve

Nature Conservancy Plans Controlled Burn at Flat Ranch Preserve
Burning Will Improve Rangelands for Cattle, Elk, and Other Animals

Island Park – Today (September 25, 2019) The Nature Conservancy will burn approximately 220 acres of pasture at its Flat Ranch Preserve, located east of Henry’s Lake. The burn is largely designed to improve plant diversity and grazing for cattle, but it will also benefit elk, moose, pronghorn and other wildlife species.

Fire is a natural part of this grassland ecosystem and helps maintain its health and vigor. It warms up the soil and reduces the leaf litter that accumulates each year, allowing sunlight to penetrate. Warming the soil increases microbial activity, which releases nutrients from decaying plant material that new grasses and flowers need to grow. After a fire, grazing animals are attracted to the lush re-growth of grass and concentrate their grazing in that burned area.

Fire can also be used to increase wildflower diversity in grasslands, which benefits butterflies, moths and other pollinators, providing a variety of food sources throughout the growing season. Diverse grasslands also provide the different types of vegetation and structure that pollinators need during different times in their life-cycles.

Controlled burns are only lit when weather conditions are favorable for the burn to remain at low intensity. Those conditions look favorable for today – September 25th. All burns require extensive planning. Safety of participants and nearby human communities are the number one concern in all controlled burns.

In addition to The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Island Park Fire Department will participate in the burn.