Controlled burning is one of the most effective strategies for keeping a prairie a prairie. Without the disruption fire provides, woody species would overtake the grasses and eventually a woods would stand where a prairie once grew. Fire also removes thatch, returning those nutrients to the soil, and controls early-season weeds. We conduct our burns in mid-March through early April, before the prairie species have broken dormancy, and when wind and humidity values are within a fairly narrow range. We need just enough wind to carry the flames, but not so much that the fire is carried beyond our burn breaks. Too much humidity and the fire won't stay lit; too little and it burns far to fast. We only burn a portion of the Bro. Don Geiger, SM prairie each year, as over-wintering insects do not survive the blaze. Non-burned areas provide a refuge for those species.
MEEC land manager Michele Banker is certified by the State of Ohio to manage prescribed burns, and we have an experienced team of MEEC and MSJ Facilities staff and volunteers that make sure the burns are completed safely. We receive permits from the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency, and the Beavercreek Fire Department is always on standby. If you plan to visit the MSJ Nature Preserve over the next few days, you may encounter "closed trail" signs. They're there for your safety, and trails will be re-opened as soon as possible.