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    Prescribed Burning in Ojibway Prairie Complex

    prescribed burn Ojibway Park

    The Ojibway Prairie Complex is located within the City of Windsor and includes the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve and several municipal parks, namely Ojibway Park, Tallgrass Prairie Heritage Park, Black Oak Heritage Park, Oakwood Natural Area and Spring Garden Natural Area. At the time of European settlement, the Ojibway area supported large expanses of tallgrass prairie as well as pin and black oak savannahs. Fire was an important mechanism for the maintenance of this open landscape until settlement reduced the frequency and extent of naturally occurring burns. Since then forest canopy cover has increased within remaining parklands and many species dependant on open sites have experienced significant declines.

    dense blazingstars
    Rare nesting birds, butterflies, moths, leafhoppers, spiders, snakes, and more than 100 provincially rare vascular plants rely on the open habitats of tallgrass prairie and oak savannah. Tallgrass prairie and oak savannah communities are two of the most critically endangered ecosystems in North America.

    Fire is critical to the natural ecology of prairie and oak savannah ecosystems. Prescribed burning mimics the fires of long ago and has proven to be an effective tool in the management of tallgrass prairie and oak savannah. These habitats recover quickly from prescribed burns and fire helps to prevent the establishment of invasive woody vegetation. Fire removes the buildup of thatch and returns the stored up nutrients back to the soil. With earlier exposure to the sun, the perennial warm season grasses and wildflowers generally experience increased growth, flowering and seed production after a fire while the thick bark of mature oak trees assists in providing protection from the fire.

    Ojibway Park prescribed burn 2021
    Within Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve, the Ministry of Natural Resources conducted the first prescribed burn of five ha in 1978, increasing to 35 ha in 1983. The eighth burn held in April of 1993 covered 130 ha and for the first time included portions of two municipal parks. Since then prescribed burning has been conducted in all the natural areas of the Ojibway Prairie Complex.

    Prescribed burns are scheduled on an annual basis, usually in early spring before the spring emergence of most rare reptiles, and prior to bird nesting. The entire burning operation is being conducted by professional fire staff who are trained in fire behaviour and control.

    Ojibway Park prescribed burn 2021
    Despite the operational complications of conducting a prescribed burn in an urban setting, every burn has been a success. Busy streets, residential housing, horse racing track, stables, natural gas lines, an active railway line, a cellular tower and a major hydro transmission corridor have occurred or do occur within or adjacent Ojibway Prairie Complex. The burn program's success has been attributed to the level of cooperation between involved agencies, especially the Ministry of Natural Resources and the City of Windsor. Public education and research have always been an important aspect of the program. Prescribed burns are preceded by and followed up with an active education program targeting the public, park users and staff.

    Fire provides a tremendous protection to the prairie. Without the aid of fire to burn back the invading woody plants, the prairie would never have been able to maintain its tenuous foothold in the province of Ontario. Today, we continue to use fire to control woody plant invasion, while leaving some areas intact for fire-intolerant species, like insects and other invertebrates that would otherwise be adversely affected.

    Prescribed burning is necessary to maintain healthy and diverse ecosystems within the Ojibway Prairie Complex; which contains one of the largest stands of original tallgrass prairie remaining in Ontario. Prescribed burns are part of a comprehensive restoration plan for this sensitive and endangered area.

    During prescribed burns please be aware that local residents and drivers could see some smoke. Natural areas will be closed during the burns and itís recommended nearby neighbours keep windows closed when smoke is in the air.

    prescribed burn break
    Prescribed burn breaks are used to delineate areas of burning. Existing authorized trails are often used, however, on occasion temporary breaks are cleared. These are not trails so please remain on authorized trails only. If you see an area that has received a prescribed burn, return in the summer for the beautiful floral display.

    Here is a series of videos prepared by the City of Windsor Communications team:
    Prescribed Burn Preparations
    Prescribed Burn Spring Garden Natural Area 2019
    Prescribed Burn Ojibway Park 2021

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    Information last updated : 17 May 2021
    URL of this page: http:///www.ojibway.ca/presc_burn.htm
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