In the interest of safety, a controlled and permitted burn took place on Monday, April 25 at Otsego Elementary School prairie land and adjoining fields.
The contractor, Prairie Restoration, notified school district officials that morning that the weather conditions were expected to be near perfect for the controlled burn.
The contractor attempted a controlled burn last year; however, wind conditions were such that the burn had to be canceled. During the controlled burn, school property was cordoned off with only fire experts allowed on site.
The reason for the controlled burn is to reduce what is referred to as “fuel buildup,” which if not managed early in the season leads to the potential of uncontrolled field fires (lightning, etc.). The burn also controls non-native weeds while stimulating the growth of the native grasses and forbs.
Experts recommend that prairies be scheduled for controlled burns every five to seven years; Otsego Elementary School is now in that window. School Principal Erin Talley says management now not only helps “ensure the safety of our students and school, but also lessens the possibility of an uncontrolled fire affecting neighbors’ property.”