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Published on: May. 18, 2011

Prescribed Burns

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Glade Coneflowers

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Dan and Susan’s land is a patchwork of ecosystems. There’s a 21-acre low-lying hayed pasture in the southwest portion of the property, which borders the county road that accesses their property. There’s a 26-acre warm-season grass field toward the southern end of the property. The rest of the 218 acres is either restored glade-woodland or overgrown glade-woodland with the exception of both a northeastern segment of the property, which approaches true forest, and, across the county road, an 18-acre creek woods section bought from a neighbor to preserve a forested riparian zone for the creek.

Dan and Susan’s home is located near the middle of the short leg of the reverse-L-shaped property. A driveway winds up from the county road about 200 feet to their self-designed house on the pinnacle of a hill. Designed to take advantage of passive solar energy, it’s aligned east and west with large south and east exposed dining room windows. The windows overlook a large pond, which lies at the base of a hill whose knob rises a little higher than the house and has a dense growth of warm-season grass. As with a lot of pastureland in Missouri, and indeed elsewhere, fescue dominated the cleared pastures of Dan and Susan’s property when they purchased it. Nonnative fescue is a cool-season grass, a group of grasses that green up in spring and early summer. Warm-season grasses flourish throughout the summer, allow space for nesting and foraging, and sustain a variety of wildlife that fescue, and other cool season grasses, do not.

Susan’s Glade

In the winter and spring of 2010, Dan focused on a 21-acre woodland section of the property, which has a dolomite glade at its center. Dan dubbed it “Susan’s Glade,” because she brought him out to see it and pushed for its restoration. Glades, often dotted with exposed outcrops of igneous, limestone or dolomite rock, are one of the hallmark ecosystems of the Missouri Ozarks. They are typically found on south to southwest- facing slopes and receive a lot of sun. Therefore, these glades are drier, and, historically, burned more frequently and intensely than surrounding areas, which kept the red cedar trees out. Eastern red cedar trees are native to Missouri and the Ozarks, but a lack of prescribed fire in the region has allowed their numbers to swell a thousand-fold since historic times, says Dan.

Over thousands of years, the Ozarks

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