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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Longwood Gardens Prescribed Burn

Setting The Prescribed Burn
           Yesterday, March 19, 2018, Sharon and I witnessed the prescribed burn of the meadow at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square. 

         Some talking points about the burn are provided by Tom Brightman of Longwood.

2018 Prescribed Meadow Burn Talking Points:

         What is a Prescribed or Controlled Burn? A Prescribed or Controlled Burn is fire applied in a knowledgeable manner to live and dead vegetation on a specific land area under selected weather conditions to accomplish predetermined objectives.

·        Why are we burning the Meadow Garden? To ensure the continued health and vibrancy of the Meadow Garden, we use the practice of conducting ecologically beneficial prescribed burning. A prescribed burn controls woody and non-woody invasive plants and enhances native herbaceous plant communities. In turn, it also encourages diverse wildlife populations. Almost as important, controlled burns help reduce the fuel load (live and dead vegetation) of the meadow, reducing wildfire risk and making it a safer place for our community.

·        Are we burning the entire Meadow Garden? No. We will only be burning four areas of the Meadow Garden, or about 30% of its 86 acres. Conditions permitting, we plan on burning units 1, 4, 8 and 10 (as indicated with black circles on the map below).  We rotate the units from year to year as ecological conditions warrant, and to maintain a large amount of wildlife habitat throughout the year.

·        Who conducts the Prescribed Burn? With safety at the forefront, these burns will be conducted by contractors and Longwood staff specifically trained in the safe and effective practice of prescribed fire management. In addition, local and state authorities and emergency resources are aware and on standby if needed for assistance.

The PA Prescribed Fire Standards have established detailed requirements to the planning and procedures for a controlled burn.  The Standards are in place to ensure every burning operation has the correct equipment, enough trained personnel, and proper smoke management plan.

·        Will the Meadow Garden be closed?  Yes. All access to the Meadow Garden and Webb Farmhouse will be closed to guests and staff. In addition, the Lookout Loft Treehouse and selected paths adjacent to the Meadow Garden will be inaccessible for March 19 and possibly March 20.

·        How do you protect the structures?
Large firebreaks are mowed around tree lines, trees and structures to protect them during a burn.  We also have plenty of water resources on –hand during the controlled burn.

·        What happens to the wildlife during the burn?
Animals and other wildlife have natural instincts concerning fire.
They burrow under the ground, or move to a part of the meadow which will not be burned. This time of year is selected as birds are not yet nesting in the meadow grasses.

View of Meadow after the burn. It should be green again in 3 weeks

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