Spring-Summer 2011




Welcome to the Spring-Summer 2011 edition

We felt the thick bark and the corky twigs of the old bur oaks,
and understood how this oak, rather than the red oak,
or the white oak, could have withstood the Indian fires
that swept the prairie and licked at the margin of the forest.

—May Theilgaard Watts,
“Reading the Landscape of America’’

The fires came early this year – mid-March – to our local prairies, a welcome reminder that winter was losing its grip on our rolling landscape. No one makes an announcement that tomorrow fire is coming to a nearby grassland, but if you are lucky to be driving by a prairie refuge and smell smoke, it’s more than likely that land managers have started a controlled burn.  Be sure to stop, if you can, and check it out. A burn is exciting and invigorating, reminding us of the diverse, fire-dependent ecosystem that formed our landscape. If you’ve never watched a burn, you can get a hint of what it’s like by taking a look at Bob Fila’s photo of a burn crew in action. Next time you drive by a blackened prairie in the early weeks of spring, remember that the charred earth is proof that  summer’s wildflowers and tall grasses are coming.

-- LeAnn Spencer, editor and publisher