An area of grassland will be intentionally burned at Big Stone Lake State Park this spring to remove dead plant material and rejuvenate the growth of grasses and forbs, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This management tool, known as prescribed burning, can be one of the most effective and economic ways to improve grassland habitat.
According to Cara Greger, DNR park specialist, prescribed burning stimulates the growth of native plant species whose seeds may otherwise lie dormant in the soil.
"Burning promotes a new flush of native species, discouraging the growth of non-native species that tend to overrun non-burned areas," Greger said. "Native prairie plants benefit wildlife, providing food and shelter to a variety of bird and animal species."
Greger said that burning a prairie also increases the palatability of the forage for deer, rodents, and other species that eat plants.
The burn is scheduled to take place during late April or early May depending on weather conditions. It will be conducted on the Meadowbrook unit of the park. The burn area will be adjacent to the township road leading to the Meadowbrook public access and continue north to Minnesota Highway 7 and west to the State Park road.
Greger said efforts will be made to control the smoke from the burn, but smoke may travel beyond the park boundaries.
Anyone who wishes to be added to a mailing list about the burn or has concerns about the health impacts of smoke on conditions such as emphysema or asthma, can call the Lac qui Parle State Park office at 320-734-4450, ext. 225.