While most of us do all we can to prevent fires, we are gathering our matches to set a few of our meadows ablaze. Each winter, the Grounds Team partners with the Asheville Fire Department (AFD) to conduct controlled burns of our meadows. Why? Prescribed burns contribute to a healthier natural environment which is a key value of our community.
Burning encourages new grass growth which allows animals to nest. It also serves wildlife by providing nutrient-dense vegetation. Additionally, the burning prevents encroaching vegetation from dominating the meadows. Finally, grasses usually emerge greener and lusher after a burning. While numerous techniques for meadow management exist, the most environmentally-friendly maintenance technique is burning.
Open burning is not allowed within Asheville city limits. However, the Asheville Fire Marshall and WNC Regional Air Quality Agency have approved of our controlled burn as a beneficial training exercise for the AFD and have given their consent.
The AFD spends several hours in each area of campus and typically completes the process in 3 days. A portion of the meadows adjacent to Barrett Lane, Cokesbury Lane, Lovely Lane, Oxford Commons, Strawbridge Court, and Givens Estates Health Center are scheduled to be managed through controlled burning.
In order for the actual burning to occur, a favorable weather pattern must exist and all burning will be subject to the schedule of the AFD. If we are unable to perform a controlled burn in all areas this year, we will schedule the remaining portion to be completed in following years. Controlled burns will be planned on an annual basis. Due to limited availability of the AFD and uncertain weather conditions, we have planned to start our controlled burn operations earlier than in previous years.
After the burn is complete, expect to see most of the banks covered in black/grey soot. This coloration will remain evident for 6-10 weeks, until the plant species are able to put out new growth. In a short amount of time, the black will turn to green and life again will return to the meadow.
If you have questions about Givens Estates’s commitment to the environment or wish to learn more about this Best Management Practice for meadow management, feel free to contact John Nelson, Assistant Facilities Director.