Archived Story

Nature Center officials plan burn tonight

Published 10:03am Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center is planning to burn 62-acres of prairie land Wednesday night to replant a more diverse conglomeration of prairie flowers and grasses.

Weather permitting, nature center officials and the Austin Fire Department are scheduled to burn land on far northeast side of the nature center Wednesday night. If it’s too windy or wet, the burn would be postponed.

“If they see fire in the sky, then they’ll know we’re burning, especially on the northeast side of the nature center,” Executive Director Larry Dolphin said.

The burn was planned last Wednesday, but it was pushed back because of snow. Weather is a concern again today, as Dolphin said they’ll postpone the burn if it rains. If it’s postponed again, Dolphin said they’ll try for sometime in December if there’s still no snow cover.

Wind could also be an issue, but Dolphin said they’re a go as long as winds don’t exceed 15 mph.

The land was acquired in 2005, and officials have been restoring it to have a more diverse set of prairie land that will appeal to a more diverse set of animals. The nature center has special permission to remove the three to four species of native prairie previously planted to plant up to 80 species of grasses, wild flowers and other native prairie vegetation.

“We’re trying to make it much more diverse than what it is,” Dolphin said.

The land will be re-planted yet this fall through frost-seeding, a planting method Dolphin said has some of the best germination rates. The land being burned is not currently part of the public portion of the nature center and no public trails go through the land.

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