Prescribed burn planned at FSNHS

By Jason E. Silvers
Fort Scott Tribune – April 5, 2014

National Park Service wildland fire personnel monitor a prescribed fire last year on the grounds of the Fort Scott National Historic Site. Another controlled burn to help protect natural prairie on the site grounds is planned for sometime this month, FSNHS officials said. (Tribune file photo)

National Park Service wildland fire personnel monitor a prescribed fire last year on the grounds of the Fort Scott National Historic Site. Another controlled burn to help protect natural prairie on the site grounds is planned for sometime this month, FSNHS officials said.
(Tribune file photo)

The Fort Scott National Historic Site plans to conduct a prescribed burn in the park sometime this month.

FSNHS Superintendent Betty Boyko announced Friday that a prescribed fire is scheduled to be conducted in the park sometime between now and April 30, according to a National Park Service news release.

The exact time and date of the burn will be determined when proper weather conditions are present and trained staff is available, the release said.

FSNHS Chief Ranger Kelley Collins said Friday that park officials were hoping to conduct the burn today, but if circumstances prevent that, it will take place later in the month.

“We’re shooting for tomorrow (Saturday),” Collins said. “If for some reason it’s a no-go, we will do it later in the month.”

About five acres of restored tallgrass prairie will be burned under the supervision of U.S. Fish and Wildlife and NPS wildland fire personnel with assistance from the Fort Scott Fire Department.

The objective of the project is to eliminate a buildup of hazardous fuels, control invasion of woody and exotic species and promote the growth of native prairie plants, the release said.

“We’ve held it annually for five years in a row,” Collins said.

Native grasses on the grounds are fuel for a possible wildfire and the controlled burn will help reduce the changes that will occur. Another benefit of the burn is that it will destroy all of the dead material above-ground on the prairie and nutrients will be restored to the soil which will promote the eventual growth of prairie grasses, officials said.

The project will be conducted under prescribed conditions set forth in the park’s Fire Management plan and Prescribed Fire Burn Plan. Personnel will use a mixture of gasoline and diesel fuel to burn off unwanted growth.

Personnel will burn the entire section of prairie on the 17-acre fort grounds. The site also consists of 20 historic structures and a parade ground, which along with the tallgrass prairie, help tell the story of Fort Scott between 1842 and 1873. It is a repository for artifacts relating to the former U.S. Army frontier military outpost.

The local radio stations, KOMB-FM (103.9) and KMDO-AM (1600), will be notified prior to ignition. People near the site who might be bothered by the smoke are encouraged to contact the park at (620) 223-0310. They will be notified the day of the operation so they may take proper precautions to avoid the smoke.

Collins said the site typically has not received any complaints from the public regarding smoke caused by the fire in past years.

The park will remain open to visitors during the operation although certain areas will be temporarily off limits for safety reasons. The operation is expected to last less than four hours, the release said.

The public may stop by the site to watch the fire from a safe distance, if they wish, officials said. Staff at the site will also be available to provide information and answer questions about the fire.

More information about the NPS can be found at www.nps.gov.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster