Many thanks to the Department of Forestry for another safe and effective burn in the riparian buffer! It has been a challenge scheduling this spring burn with frequent afternoons of wind, rain or DoF personnel being called away to respond to unplanned fires.
We focused on the 10 acres which were initially burned in 2012, staying on a three year schedule in order to encourage the vitality of the native warm season grasses. This is the third burn in the riparian area, each one planned for a different month to assess the effects.
The 52 acre riparian area is divided into seven test plots in which we are researching the most effective way of transitioning from cool season grass (fescue) to native warm season grasses (Indian grass, big and little bluestem, switchgrass, sideoats grama and Eastern gamma grass).
The native grasses support the ecosystem, providing habitat and food for native insects and birds and anchor soil in place with roots that can descend six to eight feet deep – an important factor as this section of the Shenandoah River tends to flood during high-water events.