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About Controlled Burning in Our Minnesota Native Landscape Restoration Projects

With the out-of-control wildfires in Australia, we realize that the topic of fire is a difficult one for most people to even engage. Our hearts go out to the people of Australia, and we’re mourning the loss of life – people, animals, and even plant species. But we thought this might be a good time for an educational post on the benefit of controlled fires – what is known in our landscape industry as prescribed burning.

Fire has its benefits, and even Mother Nature makes use of it from time to time. While it might seem hard to accept, forest fires are a natural process that is necessary for a healthy ecosystem. And it’s one of the ways we make use of to clear out undesirable species and get rid of dead and decaying plant material.

The Benefits of Fire in Nature

Fires will often occur naturally as a result of a lightning strike when an area like a forest gets overgrown. As an area gets dense growth, sunlight diminishes and plant species dependent on that light for photosynthesis die back, leaving debris. Fire removes that undergrowth and burns up debris, and in turn provides nutrients to the soil. A more nourishing soil and more sunlight mean healthier plants, trees, and shrubs.

One Minnesota native species – the red pine (pinus resinosa, wrongly called the Norway pine) requires lots of sunlight for young seedlings to thrive. Once a forest fire has cleared away dense layers of pine needles and other debris, these young trees will flourish. And Nature has crafted this particular tree to be very fire resistant. Most invasive species are not so fire-hardy, which is why it’s one technique we use to clear them out.

Farmers have used this technique for centuries to prepare their fields. But we don’t recommend this practice for amateurs. Without the proper planning, equipment, and training, even a small fire can get out of control quickly. Our field crews who perform controlled burns are highly trained and work with state and local officials to obtain proper permits. We always have a water delivery system on site. And we coordinate our efforts with any nearby property owners to make sure they’re aware of what we’re doing.

We’ve done over 6,000 annual controlled burns very successfully, for property owners of all types – residential, agricultural, government and corporate. If you’d like a professional consultation to evaluate your property for a controlled burn, give us a call at 1-800- 837-5986.