Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Association Plans Prairie-Renewing Burn Event in Spring 2024

2021 GMWHOA prescribed burn event

The Green Meadows West Homeowners’ Association board has retained environmental consultants Impact7g, 8951 Windsor Parkway, Johnston to manage and conduct the next prescribed burn of the neighborhood's signature prairie areas. Also called a controlled burn, the event is tentatively scheduled for spring 2024. However, weather and other factors could delay the burn until fall. (For example, as of Mar. 18, 2024 there is a current burn-ban due to dry conditions in Polk and other Iowa counties.)

Starting in 2012, the association has regularly contracted expert services to conduct prescribed burns every 2 to 4 years. 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. 

Prairie Committee volunteers say that burning helps control invasive species, promotes the growth of desired prairie plants, and avoids chemical overspray that can damage nearby lawns. 

Burns are conducted only when weather, wind, air quality, and other safety conditions are met. In the weeks and days leading up to the burn, the Green Meadows West Homeowners’ Association will publish notices via on-line platforms, social media, and mailed postcards. You can also request notification by e-mail via Association Manager Ben McMenamin at: benm AT knappLC DOT com; 515.222.5206.

All required notices will be issued prior to the 2024 burn event. City of Johnston Fire Department personnel will also be notified.

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. At the 2024 association meeting, current Green Meadows West prairie committee chairman Jason Hamata said the neighborhood's prairie was one of the best in the state.

“Prescribed fire is a common prairie management tool,” former Green Meadows West prairie committee chairman Greg Knoploh noted during a previous burn event. “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.” 

The neighborhood areas scheduled to be addressed in the 2024 prescribed burn include:

  • The main prairie east of Windsor Park and west of Foxboro Road
  • The trail area located east of association member First Baptist Church of Greater Des Moines, 8250 N.W. 62nd Ave, Johnston
  • Small areas southwest and northwest of the intersection of Foxboro Road and Chambery Boulevard
  • The swale area south of Weybridge Court and east of Kings Row

The association-owned natural areas under the high-voltage power lines that run west-east between King's Row (in Plat 9) and Foxboro Road (in Plat 12), however, will not be burned. Power company easements do not allow for prescribed burns, as fire might damage towers and overhead wires. When necessary, the grasses in that easement corridor are mechanically mown and trees pruned.

For more information, or to request burn event-notification by e-mail, homeowner-members should contact Association Manager Ben McMenamin at: benm AT knappLC DOT com; 515.222.5206

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