LIMA — A fire Sunday at the Tecumseh Interpretive Nature Preserve at Mumaugh and Reservoir Roads was deliberately set.
The prescribed burn was to help the ecology of the prairie, which is owned by The Ohio State University at Lima, and the ones setting the fire were from the main campus of The Ohio State University.
Roger Williams, associate professor of forest ecosystem analysis and management, brought several students down to help out.
“I teach a wildland fire course, two courses at OSU, and part of that course we do prescribed burning at the OSU Marion campus on the Yoder Prairie there. So that’s part of their lab exercise, but they get what they call ‘red card certification’ as a result of taking the course, which enables them to work on prescribed fire and also work on wildland fire crews,” Williams said.
This was the first prescribed burn for the prairie in Lima, which was started in 2017.
“Prairies are typically burned once every three to five years, part of their natural life cycle. With prairies, especially these days, we get a lot of invasive grasses, sedges, shrubs and even trees coming into prairies,” Williams said. “So one of the things that the fire does is it really cleans out a lot of the invasive species. But a lot of native species are fire-tolerant, so they’re more accustomed to fire.”
Students get a chance to experience fire up close.
“I just finished my senior thesis, which is on the flammability of goldenrod and prairies, so I just get another experience, looking at fires and fire behavior,” said Madeline Reuschling, a senior at OSU, majoring in environmental science. “And then when I graduate, I’m going to work on a fire ecology program in New Mexico, so it’s just a nice refresher before I head out there.”
OSU-Lima officials were nearby, watching the prescribed burn with great interest.
“It’s nice to think about doing the restorative kinds of things for prairie for the wildlife, insects. I hope we’ll be doing this on a regular basis as we go forward to preserve what is the prairie. So maybe we’ll do this again in a few years,” said Tim Rehner, dean and director of Ohio State University at Lima.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.