Monday, March 30, 2015

Neighborhood Prairie Burn to Continue Tues., March 31

Stantec, Inc. professionals conducted a partial prairie burn along Foxboro Road earlier today, Mon., March 30. They'll continue to monitor wind and humidity conditions for safety, and plan to begin work again approximately 9:30 a.m. tomorrow, Tues., March 31. PHOTO: DeAnn Lee
The Green Meadows West Homeowners’ Association board has retained environmental consultants Stantec, Inc. to manage and conduct a prescribed burn of prairie restoration areas this spring.

The areas affected include the main prairie east of Windsor Park and west of Foxboro Road; a small area southwest of the intersection of Foxboro Road and Chambery Boulevard; and a newer area south of Weybridge Court and east of Kings Row, which was created after the City of Johnston cleared an area to improve storm water run-off.

Stantec conducted a similar burn on behalf of the homeowners’ association in 2012. Prior to that, burns were conducted using a mix of expert consultants and volunteer labor. Volunteers are no longer used, due to training requirements and liability concerns.

"Prescribed fire is a common prairie management tool,” notes Green Meadows West prairie committee chairman Greg Knoploh. “Prairie species benefit from fire, which was common when most of Iowa was covered by prairie. The fire turns the dried plant material into ashes, which fertilizes. Increased light and heat reach the surface. Invasive plants that do not tolerate fire are reduced."

In addition to serving as a neighborhood showcase, the Green Meadows West prairies serve as visual buffer areas among homes, as wildlife habitat, and even as occasional learning laboratories for area schools and colleges.