Burning the Bioswale

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Hancock volunteer firefighters took advantage of perfect conditions April 15 to perform a prescribed burn at the Hancock Beach bioswale, which is tended by Keweenaw Wild Ones and the Hancock Beautification Group.

Managed native grasslands like the bioswale are often burned every few years to clear out dead vegetation. The practice blackens the soil, which then heats quickly in the spring sun and encourages rapid growth of the warm-season native plant community.

Since insects and other invertebrates shelter in the dead vegetation, only half of the bioswale was burned. This preserves half the insect population, which can later recolonize the burned section as it regenerates.

Firefighters ignited the dead vegetation with weed burners and controlled the blaze with water sprayed from fire hoses. They followed up by raking and wetting the soil to quench any hot spots.

Many thanks to the Hancock Volunteer Fire Department and its chief, Bill Lepisto, for helping to restore this exceptional fragment of native habitat.