One of my favorite philosophies to ponder is that the only constant in life is change. This philosophy dates back to 540 B.C. with a Greek philosopher by the name of Heraclitus. He compared constant flux (change) in the world to a river; “You cannot step twice into the same river; for other waters are continually flowing in.” He also viewed fire was the source of all becoming, a symbol of God and the world processes that throws the world apart and then brings it back together again. He believed that constant change is what creates equilibrium in the world. To quote his teaching: “out of discord comes the fairest harmony.” In my view, our recent burns at Horton Grove are our way of introducing “flux” into the environment to take the landscape back in time, and we didn’t even have to go 88 miles per hour in a Delorean to do so!
With the most recent completion of a 51 acre controlled burn at Horton Grove Nature Preserve, we have now burned just shy of 100 acres on the preserve in 2015. While that number may seem quite high for some folks to perceive, I’m proud to note that none of the areas burned were outside of our firelines (aka: we meant to burn everything we burned!). We take safety very seriously here at TLC, and through careful planning, help from great volunteers, and following strict weather parameters, our two days of burns were executed safe and sound with no issues.
Now, just a few months from the first, and weeks from the second controlled burn, the landscape is coming back from the change in full force. New grasses are sprouting, wildflowers are finding new light in the open area, and newly planted pines are making staking claim in the landscape. Our use of controlled fire has allowed this beautiful change to occur, a change that creates equilibrium among the landscape, and helps to protect diversity in the different plant communities. Go out and look into the trees on the edges, and find one of the many hawks that perch, waiting to spot their next meal. Walk through the grassland trails and look and listen for the rabbits, field mice, and deer that scamper away when you’re near. Life after the burn isn’t doom and gloom. I also encourage you to head down the road from Horton Grove to Penny’s Bend, an 85 acre natural area managed by the North Carolina Botanical Gardens that is home to many rare plant species. This is a location that also uses prescribed fire to help maintain a true remnant Piedmont prairie.
If you want to read more on prescribed fire and how they benefit wildlife, I recommend you take a look at this publication from the NC Cooperative Extension Service that can be found here. Now for this public service announcement: We have many opportunities coming up to get out and experience Horton Grove, including a Bird Walk next week. Hop on over to the events page to check them out! This is The Dirt, a blog from TLC staff to you to give you a closer look on what we do and why we do it. Feel free to email me anytime with any questions at [email protected]!