I was able to attend an event called the Flames in the Flinthills this last weekend. The Flying W Ranch near the intersection called Clements, Kansas held the event. Dr. Jim Hoy was there talking about the history and conservation of the tallgrass prairie. I noted several popular Kansas Nature Photographers were in attendance. I have also noted that several people have posted about the poor horses, or the pollution of the air from the burns.
Let us delve into this. So far as the horse’s feet or hooves hurting, I can speak to this. I shot this image while on the ground. I shot others in this gallery while prone on the burnt ground. Ask my wife who has seen my pants from that day…. charcoal ground into the knees. The prairie grass burns hot. So hot that lens caps can melt, and people can get hurt when shooting these events. BUT it burns fast and the heat dissipates in a hurry. No, the horses did not mind.
Now, about the air. The tallgrass prairie holds about 80% of the biomass of the ecosystem below the ground. Let that sink in a minute. Grass that can grow stands “as high as an elephants eye” holds 80% of the biomass below ground. With the rapid growth of the grass (not years like trees), the prairies of the Midwest are one of the best “carbon-scrubbing” mechanism out there.
Nature had burned prairie grasses since the creation of lightning. Humans have burned the prairies since the Native Americans discovered the regeneration of growth and control of invasive species.
No, the controlled prescribed burning of the plains help to maintain the remaining 4% of the ecosystem known as the Tall Grass Prairie.
For more information see: National Tallgrass Prairie Preserve