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FortWhyte Alive

Feel the Burn!

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This meadow loves to feel the burn!

Since the last Ice Age, the grasses and wildflowers of the tall-grass prairie depended on grazing bison to move their seeds around. They also need fires to burn away the layer of dead grasses called "thatch".

Today, less than 1% of native tall grass prairie remains. Most of this land has been converted to cropland. Without fire, other land has been invaded by aspen trees.

Without fire or bison, aspen trees would eventually fill in this sunny meadow, and non-native grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass and smooth brome would dominate.

FortWhyte Alive is managing this ecosystem through managed burns, scheduled to target non-native grasses at the peak of their growth and eliminate the thatch layer, allowing the regrowth of many beneficial native grasses and wildflowers.

Did you know? Indigenous peoples living on the prairies understood that fires increased grass growth. They would deliberately set fires in areas in order to draw bison to their hunting grounds.

Glenn Souva 001

 

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