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Spring starts with prescribed burning

Native species plantings provide numerous benefits          Send a link to a friend

[April 21, 2007]  BRODHEAD, Wis. -- The yard's on fire! Bright orange flames leap 15 feet in the air! But it's really no surprise; that's what happens every spring at Applied Ecological Services in Brodhead, as well as out on the prairies across the nation. AES started "burn season" at the beginning of March and has already burned approximately 300 acres so far this season. When the season is over, the staff will have burned approximately 1,500 acres.

The purpose for prescribed burning is to hold the prairie system in check. According to Fred Faessler, a burn boss and seed production manager for Applied Ecological Services, "Our prairies and savannahs are considered a fire-dependent plant community. Without fire, the prairie would evolve into a shade-dependent system."

He also added, "Another reason for prescribed burning is to control the amount of invasive species in the area." Invasive plant species compete with native species, and in order to establish a healthy ecosystem, burning is required.

Homeowners and public land managers are quickly realizing the benefits of plants that are naturally adapted to local soils and climates. Native plants require less care, less expense, cause fewer problems and provide a natural beauty to any landscape. In contrast, many non-native plants cannot support themselves without expensive and harmful fertilizers and chemicals, irrigation, and constant care. Using native species provides many environmental benefits. Natives help to restore native ecosystems, including tallgrass prairies, oak savannas, woodlands and wetlands that once covered the majority of the Midwest.

Once native plants are returned to the land, many species of birds, mammals, reptiles and beneficial insects return as well, restoring a vital part of the web of life. Landscaping with natives enriches the soil, decreases water runoff and filters the pollution caused by fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.

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In the long term, native landscaping is more cost-effective than traditional landscaping. Natives exist in harmony with nature, meaning fewer hassles, less manpower and more free time to enjoy the special beauty these plants provide.

While traditional lawns use two to four species of grass, native landscape designs can include dozens of species of trees, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers, all blooming at different times during the growing season. Each is unique and constantly evolving. This year-round attractiveness is what many find most appealing.

In addition, native species can withstand anything Mother Nature can throw at them. That's exactly what they're used to.

Applied Ecological Services is a broad-based ecological consulting, contracting and restoration firm providing services worldwide. AES has been the principal ecological consulting firm in many award-winning restoration and site remediation projects. Established in 1978, AES has over 100 full-time employees in West Dundee, Ill.; Brodhead, Wis.; Prior Lake, Minn.; Eudora, Kan.; Conshohocken, Pa.; and Jackson, N.J. AES owns and operates Taylor Creek Restoration Nurseries, Spring Lake Restoration Nurseries and Kaw River Restoration Nurseries. Together, they are among the largest native prairie nurseries in the Midwest.

[Text copied from file received from Applied Ecological Services]

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