EUGENE, Ore. — On Tuesday, firefighters were in West Eugene setting some nearby prairie lands on fire.
Meadowlark Prairie went up in flames, but for a good cause. Firefighters were out doing some annual controlled ecological burns to promote new growth in the habitats.
Crews gathered early Tuesday to scope out the scene. They made sure conditions were just right, by sending out a weather balloon. With a good northeast wind to push the smoke up and out of the valley, it began.
The process started off slow; but once it got started, the flames quickly ate through the fields and smoke covered the skies. The sight drew in spectators of all sorts.
Coordinators say setting fires to maintain prairie lands isn’t just something they made up.
“These prairies evolved with fire; Native Americans used to burn them regularly. These are the last remaining remnants of this habitat type and so, it’s valuable and important for us to take care of them, restore them, to protect the biological diversity that lives here in this community with us,” said Trevor Taylor, Restoration Team Supervisor.
They say while it doesn’t look like it right way, the flames will give way to new life, open up the soil and allow the seeds to take root and grow.
“In the spring though, not only will you see it look very different than what it looks like today, you’ll see the reason why we actually do these burns. It’s just incredible to see the way the plants and other species out here flourish as a result of the prescribed burns,” said Michael Mascari, BLM Public Affairs Officer.
These controlled ecological burns are done annually with the parcels of land rotated every three to five years. To find out more about prescribed burns in our area, you can check out the Willamette Valley Prescribed Fire Facebook page.