Monday, March 19, 2012

Golf and Burn Season is Underway

With the near-record warmth, we opened the golf course on March 14th.  High temperatures are expected to be in the seventies for the next 7 days or so. Welcome to the golf season! For the record, last year (2011) we opened on March 31st. In 2010, we opened on March 23rd.

Coinciding with this nice weather came low humidity and the first burn day of 2012. We use controlled burns to keep the weed populations low in our naturalized areas that are out of play.

We co-ordinate our burns through the City of Ann Arbor Natural Areas Preservation (NAP)  department. From the NAP websiteOur native Ann Arbor ecosystems are fire-dependent. Until settlers began suppressing fires in the early 1700s, fire enriched the soil and removed dead thatch, allowing diverse native plant and animal communities to thrive. Continued fire suppression has disrupted the natural balance and allowed fire-intolerant, non-native plant species to out-compete the native, fire-adapted plants. By reintroducing fire in our parks, we are reinstating an essential ecosystem process.

Some pictures of burns we have done in the past:

Before burning (2010)

After burning.

2 weeks after burning.

2 months after burning.

As you can see, the grasses come back extremely fast. The invasive shrubs have been set back, but are sprouting back from the root system. In subsequent years, these shoots will be set back even more. It sometimes takes 4 or 5 years of annual burning before a noticeable amount of these invasive shrubs are killed.

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