The course of prescribed burns doesn’t always run smooth. Sometimes you look ahead, watch the weather, schedule the day, invite participants, and then a stiff wind blows, and you have to start all over.
That’s what happened at the Bull Shoals/White River State Park’s Gaston Wildflower Meadow early Thanksgiving week. Team leaders Karen and Hugo Woods, Park Interpreter Julie Lovett, and Park Assistant Superintendent Jeff Shell got everything ready for the biennial burn on Monday, and several intrepid Master Naturalists showed up. However, Shell declared the morning breeze at “category 5,” and—discretion being the better part of responsible volunteerism—all agreed to postpone the burn ‘til the next day. Before leaving that day, Lovett and Shell took the opportunity to walk the three-acre meadow again to refine the plan for setting a healthy but beneficial blaze.
Weather was nearly perfect for burning Tuesday, and the event went ahead as planned with a somewhat smaller group of NCAMN volunteers. Dry leaves, dead grass, and other debris were effectively burned and the garden looked great at the conclusion of the burn. Only one “jump” of the border sidewalks occurred and the resulting renegade fire was quickly extinguished by an alert crew.
“Shell, who had attended an environmental burning workshop during 2014,” said NCAMN volunteer Ron Beasley, “did a great job of directing the burn so that it was relatively complete and kept under control.”
Near the conclusion of the burn, Jim Gaston, who funded the Garden in memory of his son, happened to be driving by and topped for a brief time to observe the project.