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Prescribed Burns Planned at Heritage Park During January, February and March
POSTED: 01/12/2007
Throughout January and February and possibly into March, Johnson County Park and Recreation District maintenance staff plan to conduct controlled burns at Heritage Park, 16050 Pflumm Road, Olathe.

In all, officials anticipate about 500 acres of grassland consisting of a number of separate areas will be burned this spring as part of ongoing land management efforts.

"Our main goal is to restore our idle fields to more of a natural state," said Heritage Park Senior Park Worker Mark Golding. "Our target is to control woody plants and to slow the progress of hedge and locust trees, plus we are trying to restore prairie grasses and wildflowers. We have made a great deal of progress so far as to restoring prairie grasses and now we are working on bringing back wild flowers as well. Fire is our best chance at doing this".

Because a number of factors including relative humidity, wind speed and direction, fuel moisture, and cloud ceiling have to be right before a burn can proceed, burns cannot be scheduled far in advance and will take place as conditions warrant. All prescribed burns will take place between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. On days when burns take place, signs will be posted near the park entrances.

Safety is of utmost concern and park staff work with local fire departments and conduct all fires by permit. Golding said efforts are made to keep smoke out of the roadways and away from housing, but this doesn’t always work out.

While these fires are not publicized for public viewing, patrons who are in the park at the time of a prescribed burn may watch from a safe distance and maintenance staff will be happy to discuss the process and answer questions. For their own safety, patrons must obey all directives of maintenance personnel.

Prior to settlement, much of America's great plains were kept to a prairie ecosystem primarily by fires that were started naturally by lightning. These fires raced across the prairies and killed most trees. After settlement, fires were suppressed and trees and other woody plants invaded what were formerly grasslands. Even though most of the above-ground parts of the plants burn, prairie plants are not killed by fire because they store food in their massive root systems. Experts believe prescribed fire as a management tool has many benefits, including producing plants that flower more, produce more seed, and are more robust; lengthening the growing season for native plants and shortening it for invading weeds; and reducing maintenance costs compared to mowing and herbicides.

For more information about controlled burns at Heritage Park, contact Senior Park Worker Mark Golding at (913) 782-7625 or at (913) 909-0736

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