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Caring for the Earth: 2021 Prairie Burn

April 29, 2021
By CSA Sisters of St. Agnes

Burn image with hermitage

On Friday, April 23, CSA worked with a prairie-burn team to conduct a controlled burn at the motherhouse prairie. While it may seem counter-intuitive, burning the prairie every 2-3 years is vital to ensuring a thriving and safe ecosystem. 

Below ground, the native plants that populate the prairie have incredibly large and strong root systems that filter water, reduce erosion, and store carbon in the ground helping to mitigate its impact on climate change. 

Above ground, the prairie contributes to a healthy ecological system by providing natural seed sources to a diverse population of birds, food sources for important pollinators like native bees and Monarch butterflies, and roosting locations for birds, dragonflies, and lizards.

Burn image with birdhouses

During a prairie burn, the deep roots of the native plantings ensure the plants will survive, while invasive and non-native plants with short root structures are removed. The dead plant matter that has collected over the past few years is also burned off which returns its nutrients to the soil and also prevents it from dangerous spontaneous and uncontrolled burning.

Many animals that call the prairie home are burrowers and are quick to take refuge in their underground spaces, while birds and other flying insects head to a portion of the prairie that is not being burned. Their favorite plants regrow swiftly and by the time summer arrives, the prairie will once again be filled with beautiful blossoms and swaying grasses.

New growth

Current Closure