Written by Jan Verhoeff
You’d think with all that noise there’d be moisture falling. But, that doesn’t always happen on the prairie.
Thunderstorms roll over, leaving a trail of wind blown sand, dirt, trees broken and bent, but often the soil is dry. Those of us who live on the prairies of eastern Colorado have gotten used to the rumble of thunder, splintering lightning, and dry crusted soil. We know drought comes with living in fly-over zones. Rain just doesn’t fall here, often. Definitely not as often as we’d like.
Along with the droughts come fires.
Dry winds, dry grasses, and prairies ripe with scorched lands offer plenty of tender for a growing, fast moving prairie fire sweeping across the country. If you’ve never witnessed a prairie fire, you don’t want to. If you’ve witnessed one, you never want to see another. The damage may or may not be confined to burning off the dried grasses, removing natural habitat for wildlife, and leaving soil in danger of erosion. Or it may burn homes, crops, and endanger the few remaining clumps of trees across the land.
Prairie fires can start from a cigarette butt tossed carelessly out a car window as it passes, or a lightning strike on open ground, or a campfire left untended. Any of these can grow out of hand before help arrives to stop the spread of errant flames.
Stopping prairie fires is our responsibility.
A controlled burn, on tended land, to remove overgrown grasses in a ditch, or to burn off dried grass from a previous year may be necessary to protect against a wildfire burn that can’t be managed or controlled. But no fire should ever be left unattended on the prairies.
In even a few short minutes, winds can pick up and blow a fire out of control sending it rampaging across dried prairies.
A few suggestions:
1 – Don’t throw cigarette butts out of your vehicle.
2 – Don’t leave campfires unattended, or burning when you leave camp.
3 – If you see a lightning strike in your area, check immediately for fire.
4 – ALWAYS report any fire on the prairie if you can tell it isn’t being managed by constant supervision.
We can prevent prairie fires, and help keep them from getting out of hand. It really is up to us.
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