Indicators of Prescribed Fire Doing Its Purpose

Bright yellow flowers of goldenrod being showcased by laying in the palm of a hand.
Goldenrod, Solidago

It has been 19 months since a prescribed burn was conducted at 3 Rivers Foundation’s main campus on a little over 170 acres. The prescribed burn was controlled by Red Buffalo, led by Keith Bliar and his team. 

During those months the area where the burn occurred has undergone many changes. Mainly, from burning the massive amounts of decades of old growth giving the land a clean slate. Then large amounts of Texas thistle started emerging right after the burn to the most handsome big bluestem patches growing. With that thistle which I was concerned about, Keith said the land needed what the thistle was giving it after a burn. I still need to research that factoid more in-depth. Thankfully, the thistle did not come back earlier this year but I do not know if it’s due to a lack of rain or if the land had enough of the thistles. 

Then the deep drought occurred from October 2021 to late July 2022. Nothing was growing. It has been like looking at a winter landscape. It was the worst dryness I have ever seen since my monitoring began in 2015. 

Around the end of July and the beginning of August 2022, the land received about six inches of rain. That rain helped flowers emerge and grow like the Liatris, mealy blue sage, and Maximilian sunflowers, along with others to help feed pollinators. 

What I did not intend to see growing in this prescribed burn area was more croton. Yay for this low-growing silver plant that Northern bobwhite quail love to eat. 

What truly surprised me when I saw it, me yelling for joy, was seeing Goldenrod, Solidago, growing in this prescribed burn area near one of the main draws. It had never been in this one location before. Goldenrod is a super fantabulous late summer, early fall plant. Its bright yellow clustered flowers can be seen at distance on a landscape. Once you get closer to it you see pollinator heaven with many different types of bees, butterflies, moths, and wasps dining on the precious nectar of the plant. 

The super cool thing about Goldenrod is that if you smell it during its high peak blooming period you get soft wisps of chocolate-like fragrance much like with the Chocolate daisy. 

Prescribed fires have long-term effects, not just short-term ones. Thankful for this long-term effect of goldenrod growing where its seeds laid dormant for years and along came a fire giving it a chance to breathe underground and emerge when the rains came.